The Italian highway authorities have been attacked for carrying out work on a bridge on the A14 motorway without first closing the road to traffic. The bridge collapsed after a temporary structure failed, killing two motorists and injuring three workers.
Roberto Ascani, the mayor of Castelfidardo, the town near where the accident occurred, said: "The workers were lifting the deck of the bridge when the temporary structure they were using yielded, so evidently something went wrong. But it is inconceivable that they carried out work of this nature without closing the A14."
The motorway is being widened to six lanes. It was to have been completed in mid-May. Autostrade, the Italian highways agency, described the collapse as "a tragic, unforeseeable accident".
The two people killed by the collapse have been named as Emidio Diomede, 60, and his wife Antonella Viviani, 54. The couple were travelling in a Nissan Qashqai when they were caught in the collapse.
Three Romanian workers were injured in the incident after falling 7m from the temporary structure to the road. The three, who were employees of Rome-based civil engineer Delabech, were taken to hospital by helicopter.
The cause of the incident is not known, although the Italian press has reported that it not thought to be linked to the earthquakes that struck the region in March last year. Investigations will now begin to determine the cause.
Image: The collapsed deck (Polizia di Stato)