- The state funeral for 18 of the 38 victims of Tuesday's bridge collapse in Genoa are being held today
- Saturday has been declared a national day of mourning and a state funeral for the victims is taking place
- Italian president Sergio Mattarella has been pictured arriving at the service as well as PM Giuseppe Conte
- Flats and homes with 630 residents under or by the collapsed bridge will now have to be destroyed
More victims of the Genoa bridge collapse were laid to rest today as relatives attended the state funeral amid growing anger in Italy over the disaster which claimed so many lives.
Families of 18 of the 38 victims gathered for the funeral service in the city centre where coffins were lined up before the alter draped in white roses and tended to by inconsolable loved ones.
But tears have turned to anger as mourners demand to know how the tragedy was allowed to happen after the emergence of a report by motorway operator Autostrade warning about the condition of the bridge just last year.
Loud boos and jeers were heard as Italy's former leader Maurizio Martina arrived for the service. His Democratic Party was in charge until last year's election.
In contrast, deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini was cheered along with Italian president Sergio Mattarella who arrived earlier along with raft of other dignitaries, prominent figures and members of the Genoa football team.
Relatives of a number of victims have refused to take part announcing that they were boycotting the event.
The collapse of a section of the Morandi motorway bridge and the deaths of those crossing in vehicles have led to a fevered debate in Italy about the nation's infrastructure.
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The confirmed death toll from the collapse of a 660-foot stretch of the bridge on Tuesday that sent vehicles plummeting 165 feet to the ground, remain at 38, but officials have said there still may be up to 20 people missing.
The funerals are being held as the battle of who to blame for the incident continues after Italian media revealed that an engineering study commissioned by Italian highway operator Autostrade last year warned about the state of the concrete-encased cable stays that held up the bridge.
The newspaper reports said the university study had found that the stays of the section of the bridge that later collapsed reacted to vibration 'in a way that does not entirely conform with expectations and requires further investigation.'
The study said the anomaly in the stays' reaction may have been linked to corrosion of metal in some cables.
Some families have boycotted the event and are holding their own private services as a sign of protest against what they say was negligence that caused the bridge to collapse.
The government has declared Saturday a national day of mourning. The state funeral will be televised live and state broadcaster RAI said will not air any advertising as a sign of respect for the victims.
Meanwhile, rescue workers continue to search through tons of concrete and steel from the collapsed highway bridge for a fourth day on Friday.
The chance of finding survivors at this stage is slim and the unstable mountains of debris is making the search operation dangerous, but rescue workers said they had not given up hope.
'We are trying to find pockets in the rubble where people could be - alive or not,' fire official Emanuele Gissi told AFP.
Genoa's chief prosecutor has said that between ten and 20 people could still be missing under the huge piles of concrete.
Cranes and bulldozers are working to help clear the site as rescuers try to cut up and remove the biggest slabs of concrete.
'We will then send in dogs and rescue workers to see if we can find any signs of life,' Gissi added.
The bridge was considered a feat of engineering innovation when it was built five decades ago, but it came to require constant maintenance and its design is now being investigated as a possible contributor to its collapse.
Italian prosecutors are now focusing their investigation into possible design flaws or inadequate maintenance of the bridge that opened in 1967.
Photos of the homes located underneath the surviving sections of the collapsed Morandi bridge show one of its pillars cutting through part of a roof on a block of flats underneath.
The houses pre-dates the bridge and is appears to have been constructed with little consideration of the apartment blocks which it dwarfs.
The blocks of flats underneath the Morandi bridge are now set to be destroyed, forcing 630 people out of their homes.
The apartment buildings have been evacuated in the wake of the disaster due to the risk of further collapse, and on Thursday evening the first residents of some buildings in the affected area were allowed to return home.
While the possibly flawed design is being investigated, the Italian government has pinned the blame on Autostrade per L'Italia, the private company contracted to maintain and operate the motorway bridge.
Interior Minister Matteo Salvini demanded that the company offer up to 500 million euros (£448million) to help families and local government deal with the aftermath of the disaster.
'If we've put up five million euros, they should offer 500 million,' he told reporters. 'There needs to be an immediate, concrete and tangible signal for these families: they should put their hands on their hearts and in their wallets.'
Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Danilo Toninelli said yesterday that he has given Autostrade 15 days to prove that it has fulfilled its obligations and is not to blame for the collapse.
He said reconstruction of the key artery should begin 'as quickly as possible', and wants Autostrade to carry it out at its own expense. The highway bridge was a link between two major highways, one going to France and the other to Milan.
Autostrade, which estimates it will take five months to rebuild the bridge, denies scrimping on motorway maintenance, saying it has invested over one billion euros a year in 'safety, maintenance and strengthening of the network' since 2012.
Atlantia, the holding company that owns Autostrade, has slammed the threats to revoke its concessions and warned that the government would have to refund the value of the contract, which runs until at least 2038.
Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Danilo Toninelli said in a Facebook post that lodgings will be found for the residents, but that ultimately their apartments might have to be destroyed
The blame game: Who is responsible for the deadly Genoa bridge collapse?
The exact cause of Tuesday's disaster in Genoa, the latest in a string of bridge collapses in Italy, is not yet clear but Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli has sworn that 'those responsible will have to pay.'
The finger has been pointed in several directions, namely Autostrade Per Italia, the private company that operates many of Italy's toll highways.
Italy's deputy premier, Luigi Di Maio accused the Benetton group, which through its £6million holding company Atlantia controls Autostrade Per Italia, of pocketing profits instead of investing money for maintenance.
Di Maio's Five Star Movement party, which is governing alongside the League party, vowed to fine highway agency Autostrade 150million euros (£133million) for breach of contract while calling for its bosses to be sacked.
However, Di Maio's own party dismissed fears that the Morandi bridge in Genoa would collapse as a 'fairy story' while opposing repair work as a 'waste of money' as recently as 2013.
A now-deleted statement on the party's website argues against a project to improve Genoa's highways - including the bridge - saying those who backed the plan showed 'an embarrassing lack of critical sense.'
The plan is 'an obsolete idea with exorbitant costs that, in the end, would fall entirely on citizens' who would have to deal with a decade of building works and disruption, the statement says.
Repair work was eventually carried out on the bridge in 2016 but plans to rebuild it were shelved amid fears it would be too disruptive to locals.
The government has already filed the plans for a new replacement bridge, which they want Autostrade to pay for.
It is set to cost 100 million euros, be two lanes wider than the old bridge, and could be finished by 2019, La Stampa reports.
The parts of the bridge still standing, as well as the flats, will have to be destroyed to make way for the new overpass, which could either be built in the same spot or further along the rail tracks.
All that remains, the newspaper said quoting Deputy Prime Minister Luigi di Maio, is to ensure the work can begin - meaning a promise from Autostrade that they will foot the bill for the new bridge.
The structure is a cable stayed bridge designed by late Italian engineer Riccardo Morandi, using reinforced and prestressed concrete.
Among its unusual features were its concrete-encased stay cables, which Morandi used in several of his bridge designs instead of the more common steel cables. There are two similar bridges in the world, in Libya and Venezuela.
Experts have said a number of factors could have contributed to the collapse, including wear and tear from weather and traffic that surpassed what the bridge was originally built to sustain.
Antonio Brencich, a professor of construction at the University of Genoa, said the design lent itself to swift corrosion and the bridge was in constant need of maintenance.
Most recently, a 20 million-euro (£17.9million) project to upgrade the bridge's safety had been approved before its collapse, with public bids to be submitted by September.
According to the business daily Il Sole 24 Ore, the improvement work involved two weight-bearing columns that support the bridge - including one that collapsed Tuesday.
But Brencich, who warned two years ago that the design of the bridge was a failure, said the structure should have been destroyed rather than be subjected to more repairs.