ROME (AFP, REUTERS) - A former goalkeeper for Italian Serie A club Cagliari survived the deadly collapse of a motorway viaduct in Genoa on Tuesday (Aug 14) despite going down with the bridge in his car and ending up among the rubble.
Mr Davide Capello, who made two appearances for the Sardinian side while they were in Serie B early last decade and who is now a firefighter, managed to walk away after 200m of the Morandi viaduct crumbled at around midday. The collapsed section was 50m high.
"I was driving along the bridge, and at a certain point, I saw the road in front of me collapse, and I went down with the car," Mr Capello told TV news channel Sky TG24.
Emergency crews are scouring the wreckage for survivors and dead bodies following what Italian transport minister called an "immense tragedy".
Motorist Alessandro Megna told RAI state radio he had been in a traffic jam and seen the collapse: "Suddenly the bridge came down with everything it was carrying. It was really an apocalyptic scene, I couldn't believe my eyes."
Another eyewitness Pietro M all'Asa told Ansa news agency: "We saw lightning strike the bridge," he said, "And we saw the bridge going down."
However, according to the BBC, engineers say it is too early to determine the cause of the collapse but that lightning is unlikely to be the reason.
The death toll from the incident is expected to rise, with Italy's interior minister Matteo Salvini claiming that "around 30" were dead and some local media quoting the fire service in saying that "at least 35" had been killed.
Mr Capello, however, managed to clamber out of his car, which he says was "attached to a pylon", and climb down the rubble to the police and firefighters waiting below.
"I was able to get out... I don't know how my car wasn't crushed. It seemed like a scene from a film, it was the apocalypse," the shaken 33-year-old added.
"I was convinced it was going to end badly but thank God I've lived to tell the tale."
The incident is the deadliest of its kind in Europe since 2001 and the latest in a string of bridge collapses in Italy.
In March last year, a couple were killed when a motorway overpass collapsed on their car near Ancona on the country's Adriatic coast.
A pensioner died in October 2016 when his car was crushed by a collapsing bridge over a dual carriageway between Milan and Lecco.
Since leaving Cagliari in 2005 after a season as their third choice goalkeeper in Serie A, Sardinia-born Capello tumbled down the leagues and eventually left professional football.