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Lightning storms mass over California, Oregon as wildfires blaze

The clouds carried little rain and offered little chance of a break from the bone-dry conditions plaguing the region, the National Weather Service said. Elsewhere, crews made slow but steady progress against wildfires including one, called the Mendoci...

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Qatar's emir heads to Turkey for talks with Erdogan

Qatar's emir headed to Turkey on Wednesday for talks with President Tayyip Erdogan who is dealing with a collapse of the lira currency and deteriorating relations with the United States. Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Erdogan are expected to discus...

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Minnesota primary: Ilhan Omar expected to become first Somali-American in Congress after win in Democrat race

Minnesota state Representative Ilhan Omar, the nation's first Somali-American legislator, has won a crowded Democratic primary to replace Representative Keith Ellison in Congress. Ms Omar's victory Tuesday all but ensures she'll set another historic m...

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Rescuers search rubble for survivors after motorway bridge collapses in Genoa, Italy leaves at least 26 dead

Rescuers search rubble for survivors after motorway bridge collapses in Genoa, Italy leaves at least 26 deadFirefighters with sniffer dogs were working through the night to try to find survivors beneath the rubble of a giant bridge that collapsed in the Italian port city of Genoa. At least 26 people, including a child, died in the disaster, which happened as the city was lashed by an intense thunderstorm, but the toll was expected to rise. Officials said 15 people were injured and 10 of them were in a critical condition. Four people were pulled alive from the rubble. Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte called it "an immense tragedy ... inconceivable in a modern system like ours, a modern country." Dozens of cars and trucks plunged 150ft to the ground after the elevated motorway suddenly collapsed. Rescuers scouring through the wreckage, strewn among shrubland and train tracks, said there were "dozens" of victims, as rescue helicopters winched survivors on stretchers from the ruined bridge. "We are still trying to extract survivors from the rubble," Alessandra Bucci, a police official, said. "We hope to find more people alive." Emanuele Giffi, a fire official, said "a dozen people" had already been rescued from under the rubble.  "We're going to work round the clock until the last victim is secured," he told AFP. Huge slabs of reinforced concrete slammed into warehouses and other buildings, most of which were unoccupied because of the summer holidays. Italy’s populist government, which came to power in June, said the collapse was the result of years of underinvestment in infrastructure, shoddy maintenance and EU budget constraints. Danilo Toninelli, the transport minister, earlier said in a tweet that he was "following with great apprehension what seems like an immense tragedy".  Genoa motorway bridge collapses Up to 100 yards of the motorway collapsed at around 11:30am (9.30am GMT) during torrential rainfall after Genoa was hit by a strong thunderstorm. Several witnesses said the bridge was hit by a bolt of lightning during the storm. Cars and trucks were stranded on either side of the collapsed portion of the bridge, their drivers escaping death by just a few yards. Alessandro Megna was in a traffic jam beneath the bridge when it collapsed. Italian television showed images of the collapsed bridge Credit: Alamy "Suddenly the bridge came down with everything it was carrying. It was really an apocalyptic scene, I couldn't believe my eyes," he said. Among the survivors was a former professional footballer whose car went down with the bridge. Davide Capello, 33, a former goalkeeper for Italian Serie A club Cagliari who is now a firefighter, miraculously managed to walk away from the disaster. "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," he told TV news channel Sky TG24. Rescuers inspect the rubble and wreckages by the Morandi motorway bridge Credit:  ANDREA LEONI/AFP He managed to clamber out of his car, which he said was "attached to a pylon", and climb down the rubble to the firefighters waiting below. “I don't know how my car wasn't crushed. It seemed like a scene from a film, it was the apocalypse," he said. "The debris from the collapse came to within 20 metres of my car," said a witness, Davide Ricci, who saw the bridge go down while he was driving. "First the central pylon crumbled, then the whole thing came down."  A helicopter hovers as rescuers work at the site where the Morandi motorway bridge collapsed in Genoa Credit: AFP Another witness told Sky Italia television he saw "eight or nine" vehicles on the bridge when it collapsed in what he said was an "apocalyptic scene". The first injured have been extracted from the rubble and taken to hospital, according to Italian media reports. Italian news agency ANSA said one person had been extracted alive  and was being transported by helicopter to a hospital. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said around 200 firefighters were responding to the accident. "We are following minute by minute the situation for the bridge collapse in Genoa," Mr Salvini said on Twitter. Genoa bridge collapse map A video has emerged on Facebook of the moment the bridge collapsed, with a witness saying "Oh my God, oh my God." The fire service said it was feared that cars that were on the motorway had plummeted when it suddenly gave way. Italian television showed images of the collapsed bridge, which was built on the A10 toll motorway in the 1960s. Restructuring work on the bridge was carried out in 2016. Emergency workers attend crushed trucks and cars Credit:  REX/Shutterstock The disaster occurred on a highway that connects Italy to France and other holiday resorts on the eve of a major Italian holiday on Wednesday, Ferragosto, and traffic would have been heavier than usual as many Italians travelled to beaches or mountains. What caused the bridge to collapse? Lack of maintenance, structural failure, torrential rain and lightning strikes were all factors that could have contributed to the catastrophic collapse of the Genoa bridge. The concrete bridge was built in 1967 and questions were being asked over whether its structural integrity had deteriorated over time. A report published in 2011 by the Italian highways agency said the Morandi bridge, designed by celebrated Italian engineer Riccardo Morandi, who died in 1989, carried heavy volumes of traffic and needed constant maintenance. “Queues of cars and the volume of traffic cause intense decay of the Morandi viaduct structure on a daily basis,” Autostrade per l’Italia said. It is feared that cars that were on the motorway had plummeted when it suddenly gave way Credit:  GAFA A senior manager from Autostrade per l’Italia said the bridge’s collapse was impossible to predict and it was too early to determine what caused it. "The collapse was unexpected and unpredictable. The bridge was constantly monitored, even more than was foreseen by the law," Stefano Marigliani told Reuters. "There was no reason to consider the bridge dangerous.” Several witnesses said it was struck by lightning shortly before it collapsed. “It was just after 11.30am when we saw a lightning bolt hit the bridge,” a witness identified only as Pietro told Ansa, the national news agency. “Then we saw it fall down.” Emergency services at the scene Credit:  REX/Shutterstock An expert in structural engineering said it was too early to say whether the violent storm could have contributed to the collapse. "As this reinforced and pre-stressed concrete bridge has been there for 50 years it is possible that corrosion of tendons or reinforcement may be a contributory factor," said Ian Firth, former president of The Institution of Structural Engineers. "The fact that there was reported to be a storm at the time may or may not be particularly relevant.” Danilo Toninelli, the transport minister, said the tragedy was “unacceptable”. If negligence was found, then "whoever made a mistake must pay,” he said. Across Italy, there had not been “sufficient maintenance and checks” on bridges and viaducts, many of which were built during the 1960s, the minister said.


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