The prime minister of Italy has threatened to take revenge on whoever was responsible for the failure of a newly opened viaduct in Sicily last week.Â
Matteo Renzi responded to the news that the bridge had showed signs of partial collapse less than a week after traffic began to flow by tweeting that "the era of errors without ever any fathers is finished. Everyone will pay".
Renzi’s outburst was followed by similar threats from his minister for infrastructure, Maurizio Lupi, who tweeted that the problem was "unprecedented and unacceptable". He added: "Whoever has made this mistake will pay, both those who built and those who inspected it."
The Scorciavacche viaduct, which is 25 miles from the capital Palermo, began to display stress symptoms on 30 December, causing minor injuries to four people, including a pregnant woman.
According to some reports, no vehicles were on the bridge at the time as it had been closed to traffic after the company picked up signs of subsidence.
It was to have been part of a part of a $240m road project between Palermo and the western port of Agrigento.
Anas, the construction company responsible for the project, finished the structure three months ahead of schedule, allowing it to open on 23 December.Â
Pietro Ciucci, the company’s president, said the media had exaggerated what happened, and disputed use of the word "collapse".
He took issue also with a photograph (shown here) published on many Italian media sites which appears to show significant damage to the viaduct.
"Despite certain headlines and misinterpreted photos that have been exchanged, no viaduct has collapsed," Ciucci said in a statement. "The Scorciavacche viaducts have not suffered any damage and are intact. There is no risk to users."
Engineering experts have begun an investigation, and Anas has announced that it is conducting an internal inquiry. Yesterday it was reported in the Italian media that a Sicilian prosecutor had seized documents from the construction firm.
Despite what the Italian infrastructure minister said, collapses in Italy are not unprecedented. In July last year, the Petrusa bridge, which also part of a highway leading to Agrigento in Sicily, fell down while three cars were travelling across it.
We should remember that Italians are one of our partners in the European Union.
Is this another example of why we should be very wary of following EU directives?
We do not seem to have similar problems in UK – could it be that our British Standards, Codes of Practice and procedures are somewhat better than our European partners?
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