State funeral for bridge collapse victims as outrage simmers

Genoa: Grief gripped the Italian city of Genoa on Saturday as thousands of mourners attended a state funeral to commemorate the victims of a bridge disaster that has sparked anger, while rescuers pulled more bodies from the wreckage.
Large crowds packed inside an exhibition hall turned into a makeshift chapel where coffins adorned with flowers and photographs were lined up.
There was long applause as a priest read out the names of the 38 official dead and also paid respect to the latest victims discovered inside a car under debris early on Saturday.
Local media reported that the bodies were those of a family of three, including a nine-year-old girl.
“The Morandi bridge collapsed has pierced the heart of Genoa. The pain is deep,” Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco said during the mass.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte presided over the service, which coincided with a national day of mourning.
“I lost a friend but I came for all the victims,” Genoa resident Nunzio Angone said.
The populist government has blamed the operator of the viaduct for the collapse and threatened to strip the firm of its contracts.
Among the coffins was a small white one for the youngest victim, an eight-year-old boy who was killed alongside his parents as they prepared to catch a ferry to the holiday island of Sardinia.
Another two coffins were draped in the Albanian flag featuring a black eagle against a red background.
“I don’t know those who have died in the bridge collapse but I wanted pay my respects regardless. This shouldn’t have happened,” Genoa resident Claudio Castellaro, 73, said.
Applause erupted as firefighters entered the hall ahead of the ceremony.
There was also loud clapping for co-deputy premiers Matteo Salvini and Luigi di Maio, two key figures in Italy’s new populist government who have led angry tirades against Autostrade per L’Italia, the managing company of the highway.
Mourners also included the city’s two football squads, Genoa and Sampdoria, who have postponed their weekend matches.
But more than half of the families of the victims refused to take part, some preferring a more intimate funeral, while others announced a boycott.
— afp