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The Morandi motorway bridge in Genoa, a portion of which collapsed on Tuesday killing at least 38 people, has been described as a "tragedy waiting to happen" by engineering experts. The collapse took place after a violent storm.

But the head of the civil protection agency, Angelo Borrelli, said he was not aware that any maintenance work was being done on the bridge.

TRT World's Arabella Munro reports.

While that remained the official death toll, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said from Genoa that the number would rise. "Morandi wanted to use a technology that he had patented that was no longer used afterwards and that showed itself to be a failure", said Brencich to Radio Capitale.

Within hours of the disaster, the anti-establishment government that took office in June said the collapse showed Italy needed to spend more on its dilapidated infrastructure, ignoring European Union budget constraints if necessary.

Cars and trucks were trapped in the rubble and nearby buildings damaged.

Many Italian families were also on the roads ahead of Wednesday's Ferragosto holiday.

Journalist Josephine McKenna brings latest from Rome.

He was apparently referring to the bridge's concession-holder, Italian motorway firm Autostrade, a unit of Atlantia group.

"The top management of Autostrade per l'Italia must step down first of all", Mr Toninelli said in a Facebook post.

"Autostrade per l'Italia was not able to fulfill its obligations under the contract regulating management of this infrastructure", he said on RAI 1 state television.

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Meanwhile, investigators were also working to determine what caused an 80-meter (260-foot) long stretch of highway to break off from the 45-meter (150 foot) high bridge in the northwestern port city.

Genoa is a flood-prone city, and officials were warning that the debris from the collapse must be removed as soon as possible. Firefighters said that there are concerns about gas lines.

A huge section of the Morandi Bridge fell at midday over an industrial zone, sending tons of twisted steel and concrete onto warehouses below. One truck was stopped just a few feet from the edge of the chasm - the edge of the bridge sheared cleanly off.

Salvini said some 200 firefighters were responding to the accident.

Toninelli said the company that has the concession to operate that section of highway said its maintenance on the bridge was up to date and no work was being done at the time of the collapse.

The Morandi Bridge was inaugurated in 1967.

The disaster, on a major interchange connecting Genoa and other northern cities with beaches in eastern Liguria into France, focused attention on Italy's aging infrastructure, particularly its concrete bridges and viaducts built in the postwar boom of the 1950s and 1960s.

Colin Caprani, senior lecturer in Structural Engineering at Monash University in Melbourne, said bridges "are not set-and-forget pieces of infrastructure", arguing that as the structures age, collapses like the Morandi bridge are likely to become more common occurrences.

A man who was under the highway bridge as it collapsed also called it "a miracle" that he survived.

More than 400 people were evacuated from buildings near or below the still-standing section of the bridge.