‘A blast of air saved my life’: Truck driver recalls his miraculous escape as Genoa bridge came down ON TOP of his vehicle – but the impact threw him backwards and away from the rubble
- Luciano Goccia was about to step out of his truck underneath Genoa bridge
- Heard an explosion above him and rush of wind threw him out of the way
- As he was blasted out of the way, the bridge collapsed on top of his truck
- He escaped with minor injuries – while his truck is heading for the scrapyard
- At least 38 people have been confirmed dead since the incident on Tuesday
An Italian truck driver has spoken of his miraculous escape when the Morandi bridge in Genoa collapsed on Tuesday, killing at least 38 people.
Luciano Goccia had parked up right underneath the motorway bridge on Tuesday morning and had just opened the door when he heard an ‘explosion’ above him.
A rush of air threw him several feet backwards and into a wall, just as a huge slab of concrete came down and crushed his vehicle.
Lucky trucker: Luciano Goccia had parked his truck underneath the Morandi bridge in Genoa on Tuesday and was about to step out when a gust of wind threw him away from the vehicle
An inch from death: Mr Goccia said he was thrown back as the concrete came down and completely crushed his truck
Mr Goccia escaped with a few scratches and a minor injury to his arm in the incident that killed dozens of people – while his truck is heading for the scrapyard.
He said: ‘I had just arrived underneath the bridge, I opened the truck door to get out and I heard an explosion.
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‘When I turned, I was thrown through the air and hit a wall and I lost my breath.
‘The blast of air that had thrown me backwards saved my life. I was there in that truck there.’
With his arm in a sling, Goccia said he felt amazingly well considering what he had been through.
Escape: Mr Goccia looks at what is left of his truck, which was crushed by the bridge
Mr Goccia escaped with a few scratches and a minor injury to his arm in the incident that killed at least 38 people, including several children, on Tuesday
Goccia said he usually passed over the bridge two to three times a day as part of his normal routine, adding: ‘I feel blessed, that is it.’
Examining his completely destroyed truck that had been recovered from the debris of the ruined bridge, Goccia said he still found it difficult to look at it and see what he had been able to survive.
Other survivors of the disaster have shared their stories of how they managed to narrowly escape death when the bridge collapsed at 11.30am on Tuesday.
A French lawyer identified only as Leonine by Francetvinfo told the broadcaster that she and her husband and three-year-old son were just entering the bridge when ‘we saw the pylon go completely to the right, and we realized what was happening.’
They tried to reverse the car, then ‘opened our doors, took our son out of his car seat and then left running until the tunnel.’
Davide Capello told France’s BFM television that he was driving on the Genoa bridge Tuesday when ‘I heard a heavy sound, and I saw cars in front of me falling. I saw the road collapse then I fell with them. I thought it was all over for me.’
Capello told BFM that he survived with only minor injuries because his car fell between concrete blocks that formed a sort of protection from further damage.
Work continues: Rescuers inspect the rubble and wreckages at the Morandi motorway bridge, two days after a section collapsed in Genoa
Tragedy: At least 38 people were killed and more than a dozen injured, when the motorway bridge collapsed on Tuesday morning
Blame game: Government ministers have revoked the contract of the private firm tasked with maintaining the area’s motorways
Another witness, only named as Ivan, 37, said he watched the pylons come down as if their were papier-mache, before he was evacuated from the nearby building where he works.
‘It’s been a lifetime that we’ve known there were problems. It is in continual maintenance. In the ’90s they added some reinforcements on one part, but also underneath you can see rust.’
‘I can’t tell myself that this is real, I still feel like this is a movie,’ said Francesco Bucchieri, 62, who watched the disaster unfold.
‘There has been negligence, they underestimated the danger… we need to find the culprits, it is a scandal, the guilty must pay!’
Both families of victims and government ministers have blamed the disaster on a lack of maintenance by Autostrade Per Italia, the private company that operates many of Italy’s toll highways.
A satellite image shows the collapsed section of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa, northern Italy
Damage: The bridge came down over an industrial area and railway tracks
The 39 lives snuffed out when Genoa’s Morandi bridge came down
The Morandi bridge in Genoa collapsed around 11.30am on Tuesday while it was packed with commuters, truck drivers and holidaymakers all making their way through the busy port city.
The dead come from all walks of life and all corners of the globe, united by nothing other than the fact that they happened to be on the same 650ft section of bridge at the fateful moment it came crashing down.
Four friends on a holiday road trip
Matteo Bentornati, a freelancer videographer, Giovanni Battiloro, Gerardo Esposito, and Antonio Stanzione were due to fly to France but chose to drive instead at the last minute.
The foursome were due to spend their holidays shuttling between Nice and Barcelona but never made it over the border from their home county.
Gerardo Esposito was among four Italian men in their 20s driving on holiday to Nice in France when the Morandi bridge collapsed underneath them on Tuesday, leaving them dead
Giovanni Battiloro, a freelance videographer also believed to be in his 20s, was inside the car when it was buried under the rubble. The men had been planning to fly to France but at the last minute decided to drive instead
Matteo Bertonati (left) and Antonio Stanzione (right) were also inside the same car and died. They last contacted their parents at 11am on Tuesday to say ‘entering Genoa’, around half an hour before they died
A family of four wiped out days after their honeymoon
Andrea Vittone, 49, his wife Claudia Possetti, 48, and their children Manuele and Camilla Bellasio, aged 16 and 12 were all in their black Volkswagen Golf together when it plummeted with the bridge.
The couple married just three weeks ago and were taking a family holiday to the Sea of Sestri Levante from Pinerolo, since they had a few days of holiday left after their honeymoon in California.
They left early to make the 125-mile journey to their seaside spot, putting them on the bridge at exactly the wrong moment.
Andrea Vittone, 49, his wife Claudia Possetti, 48, and their children Manuele and Camilla Bellasio, aged 16 and 12 were all in their black Volkswagen Golf together when it plummeted with the bridge
Young family on the way to a beach holiday
Roberto Robbiano, his wife Ersilia Piccinino, and their eight-year-old son Samuel, who was one of the first to be found in the rubble, all died when their car fell 150ft.
Mr Robbiano, a computer technician, married his wife in 2014 and frequently posted photos to his Facebook of his young son and the black-and-white family cat on adventures at home and on holiday.
He posted that they were excited to head to the seaside, their car laden with beach toys for Samuel to play with in the sand. Their crushed car was found under the remains of a concrete beam, along with the boy’s Spiderman ball.
Roberto Robbiano, his wife Ersilia Piccinino, and their eight-year-old son Samuel, who was one of the first to be found in the rubble, all died when their car fell 150ft
Their car fell 150ft as the a huge 260ft section of the 50-year-old Morandi bridge gave way about 11.30am on Tuesday
Engaged medical professionals soon to be married
Alberto Fanfani, 32, an anesthesiologist, and his fiancee Marta Danisi, 29, a nurse, were also pulled from the rubble. The pair were engaged and due to marry next year.
The Mayor of Sant’Agata di Militello, Bruno Mancuso, announced a day of mourning on Facebook.
‘I am shocked and saddened by the terrible tragedy that struck one of our fellow citizens, the young Marta Danisi, who died as a result of the collapse of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa,’ he wrote.
‘The same fate befell her boyfriend, who was in the car with her. On behalf of the whole community, I express my deepest sorrow and closeness to her family members for this great pain, and the unfillable emptiness that has struck them.’
Alberto Fanfani, 32, an anesthesiologist who was originally from Florence, was also killed in the crash along with his fiancee Marta Danisi, 29, a nurse. The pair were due to be married next year
Three workers crushed to death as they toiled below
Bruno Casagrande and Mirko Vicini, who both worked for environment agency Amiu were both crushed to death, as was Alessandro Campora, 46, who was employed by private firm Aster.
‘The damages are invaluable but nothing compared to the pain for the lives lost,’ Amiu director Tiziana Merlino said. The firm shut down work in the area indefinitely.
Mr Casagrande and Mr Vicini were looking forward to a better future after a period of unemployment was ended by recent seasonal contracts with the firm.
Mirko Vicini (picutred), an environment company worker, was underneath the bridge alongside colleague Bruno Casagrande when the bridge came down, killing both of them
Young lovers on a romantic getaway
Stella Boccia, 24, was buried in the wreckage along with Dominican boyfriend Carlos Jesus Truillo, 23, a waiter.
‘We apologise to our customers, but we will be closed for mourning. Unfortunately a piece of our hearts remains under the rubble of the Genoa bridge,’ Ms Boccia’s mother wrote upon hearing the news.
The pair had not been dating long, meeting by working on the same street, Ms Boccia at a restaurant and Mr Truillo at a Foot Locker store yards away.
Stella Boccia, 24, was also killed alongside her Dominican boyfriend Carlos Jesus Trullio, 23, who was a waiter. The pair were returning from a vacation when they died
French trio on their way to Sardinia
A young French couple – Nathan Gusman, 20, and Melissa Artus, 22 – who were driving from Montpellier in France to Sardinia on a route that took them across the bridge were killed along with Axelle Nemati Alizè Plaze, also 20.
Nathan Gusman, 20, and Melissa Artus, 22, both tourists from France, were on a road trip from Montpellier to Sardinia alongside friend Nemati Alizè Plaze, 20, when they died. The trio were following a route which took them across the bridge
Axelle Nemati Alizè Plaze, 20, from France, was riding in the car with her friends when it plunged into the riverbed
A woman who loved to celebrate life
Elisa Bozzo, 34, used her Facebook page to write ‘how can I not celebrate life!’ not long before the tragedy, but on Tuesday desperate friends were using the same site to appeal for her whereabouts.
The search was in vain, however, as she was pronounced dead on Wednesday morning.
Chileans who made a new life for themselves in Italy
Also pulled from the rubble were the remains of Juan Carlos Pastenes, 64, a Chilean chef who had lived in Italy for three decades, along with his wife Nora Rivera.
Juan Figueroa, 60, a fellow Chilean, who had lived in Italy for at least two decades, was also killed.
Chef Juan Carlos Pastenes, 64 (left) and his wife Nora Rivera (right), who are originally from Chile but had lived in Italy for three decades, also perished alongside fellow Chilean Juan Figueroa, 60, who had also spent decades living in Italy
Killed while driving for work
Marian Rosca, a 36-year-old truck driver from Romania, was living and working in France to save up money to get married and build a house for his new wife back home when he died.
Marius Djerri, 22, and Edy Bokrina, from Albania, were in a van on their way to a cleaning job when they perished.
Luigi Matti Altadonna, 35, a father-of-four who sold computer games, was completing his last delivery of the morning when he plunged to his death inside his work van.
‘The municipal administration joins the pain of Giovanni, a model citizen and an exemplary volunteer of the Civil Protection Section of Borghetto, for the loss of his dear nephew in the terrible tragedy of Genoa’. Mayor Borghettino Giancarlo Canepa said.
Luigi Matti Altadonna, 35, a father-of-four who sold computer games, was completing his last delivery of the morning when he plunged to his death inside his work van
Marian Rosca, a 36-year-old lorry driver from Romania, was living and working in France to save up money to get married and build a house for his new wife back home when he was killed
Mr Altadonna was driving his work van over the bridge when it collapsed under him. Rescuers scrambled to free him from the wreckage but he could not be saved.
Colleague Gianluca Ardini, 29, who was riding in the van with him and is due to become a father next month, escaped with only a dislocated shoulder after clinging on to metal wires.
Gennaro Sarnataro, 43, a father-of-two and truck driver, was also killed on the bridge as he returned from a fruit and vegetable delivery to France.
‘He was a great worker, a decent person,’ his family said as they identified his body at the morgue.
Marius Djerri, 22 (left), a football player from Albania, was also killed in the collapse alongside colleague Edy Bokrina. The pair were traveling in a work van to complete a cleaning job when they died
Gennaro Sarnataro, 43, a father-of-two and truck driver, was also named among those killed on the bridge
Football player who leaves behind a young son
Amateur football player Andrea Cerulli, the father of a young son, was killed on his way to work, according to friends who flooded social media with tributes after finding out about his death.
‘Genoa Club Portuali Voltri rallying around Andrea’s family, our associate, our friend, our colleague, victim of Ponte Morandi’s tragedy,’ his football club wrote on its Facebook page.
Amateur football player Andrea Cerulli, the father of a young son, was killed on his way to work, according to friends who flooded social media with tributes after finding out about his death
‘Genoa Club Portuali Voltri rallying around Andrea’s family, our associate, our friend, our colleague, victim of Ponte Morandi’s tragedy,’ his football club wrote on its Facebook page
Motorbike champion killed on the road
Giorgio Donaggio, a motorbike champion, father-of-three, and boat-builder, was mourned by Italian celebrity cyclist and TV presenter Vittorio Brumotti, who credited his ‘great friend’ with helping to launch his career.
‘My great friend Giorgio Donaggio, himself a motorcycle trial champion, was lost in the Genoa bridge disaster. He’s been my idol since I was a child and it’s also thanks to him that I am what I am today. RIP Super George,’ he wrote.
Giorgio Donaggio, a motorbike champion and boat-builder, was killed in the collapse as was Alessandro Robotti, 50 (right). Mr Robotti’s wife, Giovanna Bottaro, 43, is missing but presumed dead
A doctor’s son who loved to gaze at the stars
Alessandro Robotti, 50, was the son of a doctor and until recently manager of the municipal pharmacy of Arquata, and one of the founders of a group of astronomy enthusiasts.
‘Now you can see your beloved stars up close,’ a tribute on his Facebook page read.
His wife Giovanna Bottaro, 43, who worked for Capriata D’Orba, is still missing but presumed dead.
On Thursday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte declared a state of emergency for the Genoa province and said there was ‘no doubt’ Autostrade was responsible for ensuring the safety of the bridge as part of its contract to run the highway and collect tolls.
He confirmed the government’s intention to revoke the contract from Autostrade, saying: ‘This is a tragedy that is unacceptable in a modern society, and this government will do everything in its power to prevent anything of this kind from reoccurring,’ he said.
‘We have already announced that we will begin the process of revoking the Autostrade concession.’
Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio accused the Benetton group, which through its £6million holding company Atlantia controls Autostrade Per Italia, of pocketing profits instead of investing money for maintenance.
‘Instead of investing money for maintenance, they divide the profits. And that is why the bridge falls,’ he said
However, holding company Atlantia said the announcement had come before it received any official complaints and before the causes of the disaster in the port city of Genoa were established.
Atlantia said Autostrade therefore have a right to a compensation if the concession is revoked or terminated early, as shares in the company plunged 24 per cent this morning.
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