“It is an infinite sadness but we must not lower our guard because, in Italy, the trials are long and unfortunately often with unfavorable outcomes for the victims”, summarizes Egle Possetti, president of the Committee of relatives of the victims of the Morandi bridge.
Her voice breaks when she recalls the memory of her sister Claudia, her nephew Manuele, 16, her niece Camilla, 12, and her brother-in-law Andrea: “My sister was so happy, she got married with Andrea a few days before the tragedy, they had just returned from their honeymoon trip to the United States”.
On August 14, 2018, in torrential rain, the Morandi motorway bridge, an essential axis for local and international journeys, collapsed, dragging down dozens of vehicles and their passengers. Among them Claudia, Manuele, Camilla and Andrea.
This tragedy shone the spotlight on the poor state of transport infrastructure in Italy and the troubled role of the company Autostrade per l’Italia (Aspi), accused of not having maintained the work of art, to the detriment of safety .
– Cries under the rubble –
At the time, Aspi belonged to the Atlantia group, controlled by the wealthy Benetton family, whose image has been seriously tarnished in Italy. Under pressure, the Benettons ended up selling their share to the state, collecting 8 billion euros in May.
“We should have apologized immediately” after the tragedy, acknowledged in January Alessandro Benetton, new president of the family holding company.
“We felt abandoned from day one, for months we hadn’t heard from anyone,” regrets Egle Possetti, who has been followed by a psychologist since the tragedy.
“They offered me money but it didn’t interest me because I didn’t want to lose the possibility of becoming a civil party,” explains this 50-year-old woman, her black hair pulled back.
Under the new viaduct inaugurated in August 2020, near the place where pillar number 9 of the old bridge collapsed, children play football or swings, in a playground which will soon become a park of the memory dedicated to the victims.
Not far from there, the “footbridge of August 14, 2018” spans the Polcevera river, where vehicles that fell from the bridge had landed and which is now dry, a victim of drought.
“What will remain in my memory forever are the shrill cries from under the rubble of people screaming for help, the totally flattened cars floating there and the bodies of those who lost their lives”, testifies Federico Romeo, 30 years old, mayor of the northern area of Genoa.
– Isolated neighborhood –
Nearby, in the Certosa district, “For Sale” posters are affixed to many premises. “The historic stores have almost all closed”, regrets Massimiliano Braibanti, president of the defense committee of the zone.
And property prices have plunged, with apartments of 100 m2 now selling, according to him, for less than 20,000 euros.
Bordering the scene of the tragedy, this district remained isolated for more than a year, due to the closure of the roads to allow the reconstruction of the bridge, and did not benefit from the same aid as the inhabitants of the closer areas who had to leave their homes.
“I feel the need for justice, to know that someone is guilty of the death of my brother, my nephew, my sister-in-law and so many others, and will answer for their actions”, says Giorgio Robbiano, 45 years old.
His brother Roberto had taken the bridge with his wife Ersilia and their 8-year-old son Samuele to go to their father’s house in Genoa and celebrate his birthday there, two days early. On August 16, 2018, Roberto would have turned 44.
“They died because of a bridge that was never maintained, on which people speculated to save maintenance costs and make profits,” protests Giorgio.
His father died in 2021. “He could never get over the pain. And sadly, he won’t have the opportunity to look the culprit who killed his son and grandson in the face.”