Rescuers in the north-western Italian city of Genoa continue to search for possible survivors after the dramatic collapse of a motorway bridge. Police say at least 31 people were killed and about 16 injured when dozens of vehicles fell 45m (148ft). Reports say cries can be heard from inside the debris. The number of people missing ranges from four to 12. Some 300 firefighters from across Italy have been using sniffer dogs and climbing gear in the search.
"We're not giving up hope," fire official Emanuele Giffi told AFP news agency, vowing teams would work "round the clock until the last victim is secured". Hundreds of people were evacuated amid fears other parts of the bridge might fall. The cause of the disaster, which occurred during torrential rain, was not immediately clear but questions had been raised about the safety of the structure.
Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has vowed to bring anyone responsible for the collapse to book. The Morandi Bridge, built in the 1960s, stands on the A10 toll motorway, an important conduit for goods traffic from local ports, which also serves the Italian Riviera and southern coast of France.
What are the challenges facing rescuers?
The BBC's James Reynolds at the scene says firefighters have been working their way into small cracks in an effort to find anyone who might still be trapped in a vehicle. Genoa police spokesperson Alessandra Bucci told Reuters it was thought that people were still alive. The Italian fire service tweeted a video of one person being extracted and carefully lowered on cables from a shattered vehicle, which was suspended in the wreckage of the bridge, high above the ground.
Between 30 and 35 cars and three heavy vehicles were on the bridge at the time of the collapse. A huge tower and sections of the bridge collapsed on to railway lines, a river and a warehouse. Reports suggest that nobody was killed on the ground, although some people were injured. Marcello de Angelis, who is co-ordinating the Italian Red Cross rescue effort, told the BBC that rescuers were treating the disaster like an earthquake.
"There might be the possibility of some niches being created by the rubble itself, with people being protected by the rubble," he said.
"The units that we have sent we use during earthquakes. So it is the same sort of situation – and also the risk of other collapses, obviously, is the same."
How did the bridge collapse?
A section measuring about 200 metres fell at around 11:30 local time (09:30 GMT). Police say there was a violent cloudburst at the time. An unnamed witness quoted by Italy's Ansa news agency said: "We heard an incredible roar and first we thought it was thunder very close by. "We live about 5km [three miles] from the bridge but we heard a crazy bang… We were very scared… Traffic went completely haywire and the city was paralysed." The collapse of the bridge was an "incident of vast proportions on a vital arterial road, not just for Genoa, but for the whole country", said the governor of Liguria region, Giovanni Toti.
"The Morandi bridge connects three major ports in our country, used by tens, even hundreds of thousands of people. They depart from these ports on holiday. These docks receive most of our country's imported goods. It damages the very structure of the Italian logistics system. We are expecting a very fast response from the government."
Mr Borrelli said the authorities were trying to arrange help for those affected by the disaster, as well as setting up diversions for traffic.
Is Italian infrastructure underfunded?
The new government has pledged to increase public investment. The country spent more than €14bn (£12.5bn; $16bn) on its roads in 2006 but that had dropped to less than €4bn after the 2008 financial crisis, according to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The figures cover spending on new transport construction and the improvement of the existing networks. Spending started to increase in 2013, when total spend was less than Spain, Germany, France and the UK.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.