Death toll rises to 42 in Italy bridge collapse ahead of funerals

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Rescue workers have searched through tonnes of concrete and steel from the collapsed Genoa highway bridge for a fourth day as Italians prepared to bury the 38 victims of a disaster that has angered the public and rattled industry.

On Tuesday a 200-metre section of the Morandi bridge in Genoa gave way in busy lunchtime traffic, killing at least 38 people.

Between 10 and 20 people may still be missing under the rubble, Genoa's chief prosecutor has told reporters.

But observers at the scene said the chances of finding more survivors are looking increasingly slim.

Overnight the death toll rose again, as a family of three was found in a auto under rubble, bringing the current number of dead to 41.

However, the government has declared Saturday a national day of mourning, with the funeral being televised live by state broadcaster RAI, who said there will be no advertising as a sign of respect for the victims. Ten people are still in the hospital, with nine of them recovering from severe injuries.

A spark from metal-cutting equipment may have caused the blaze in a warehouse under the fallen bridge.

"We are trying to find points where we can penetrate these incredibly heavy slabs".

Officials say about 1,000 people in all are working on the disaster site, 350 of them firefighters.

The bridge was managed by private motorway company Autostrade per l'Italia, which the Italian government is holding responsible for the tragedy.

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Interior Minister Matteo Salvini demanded that the company offer up to 500 million euros ($570 million) to help families and local government deal with the aftermath of the disaster.

Mattarella hugged families of victims.

As the cleanup crews went about their work, authorities were anxious about the stability large remaining sections of the bridge, prompting a wider evacuation order and forcing about 630 people from nearby apartments, some practically in the shadow of the elevated highway.

On Thursday evening the first residents of some buildings in the affected area were allowed to return home, though others are too badly damaged to save.

"It is also right that the rest of Serie A goes ahead and starts in other stadiums, that takes nothing away from the sense of closeness and fraternity that all of Italy showed it has in its soul as a nation that gets back on its feet every time", Ferrera said.

Its collapse prompted fears over ageing infrastructure across the world.

There were shouts of "buffone" - clown - as former minister and current Democratic Party secretary Maurizio Martina, and Italy's former defence minister Roberta Pinotti arrived at the state funeral in the northwestern Italian city.

Autostrade, which operates and maintains almost half of Italy's motorways, estimates it will take five months to rebuild the bridge.

Senior government figures have also lashed out at austerity measures imposed by the European Union, saying they restrict investment.

However, the EU's budget commissioner said the bloc had actually encouraged the Mediterranean country to invest in infrastructure, handing billions to Italy in development funds.

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