There still may be between 10 and 20 people missing under the rubble of the highway bridge that collapsed in Genoa this week, the city's chief prosecutor said on Thursday.
Francesco Cozzi told Reuters by telephone that it was the working hypothesis based on information from relatives who have not heard from family members and the number of vehicles believed to be on the bridge on Tuesday.
Cozzi had placed the death toll at 42 on Wednesday, while officials said 38 people were confirmed dead.
Rescuers worked through the night with sniffer dogs, the fire brigade wrote on Twitter on Thursday, adding that search operations continue.
But two days after a section of the Morandi motorway bridge crashed 45 meters to the ground, bringing more than 30 cars down with it, hopes of finding survivors were dwindling.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini told reporters: "Unfortunately, the toll will increase, that's inevitable."
"The search and rescue operations will continue until we find all those people that are listed as missing," Sonia Noci, a spokeswoman for Genoa firefighters, told The Associated Press.
The Italian government on Thursday launched an investigation into toll-road operator Autostrade per l'Italia.
In a statement, the Ministry of Transport said it had given the company 15 days to show it had previously met all its contractual obligations to ensure the proper functioning of the bridge and avoid accidents.
If the justifications provided by the company, a unit of infrastructure group Atlantia, were judged inadequate Rome would consider it a breach of the terms of the group's toll-road concession.
Premier Giuseppe Conte said earlier Thursday that his government won't wait until prosecutors finish investigating the collapse to withdraw the concession from Atlantia, the main private company that maintains Italy's highways.
Cozzi has said the investigation of the cause is focusing on possible inadequate maintenance of the 1967 Morandi Bridge or possible design flaws.
Italy is planning a state funeral for the dead in the port city Saturday, which will be marked as a day of national mourning. The service will be held in a pavilion on the industrial city's fairgrounds and led by Genoa's archbishop, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella has said the collapse is an "absurd" catastrophe that has stricken the entire nation.
At least six of the dead are foreigners — four French citizens and two Albanians.
Authorities say they don't know how many vehicles were on the bridge when it collapsed in a violent rainstorm.
The bridge links two heavily traveled highways, one leading to France, the other to Milan.
A 20 million-euro ($22.7 million) project to upgrade the bridge's safety had already been approved, with public bids to be submitted by September. According to business daily Il Sole, improvement work would have involved two weight-bearing columns that support the bridge — including one that collapsed Tuesday.
The bridge, considered innovative when it opened in 1967 for its use of concrete around its cables, was long due for an upgrade, especially since it carried more traffic than its designers had envisioned. Some architects have said the choice of encasing its cables in reinforced concrete was risky since it's harder to detect corrosion of the metal cables inside.
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