We just ran for our lives — Информационное Агентство "365 дней"

We just ran for our lives

abandoned vehicles on the Morandi motorway bridge after a section collapsed in Genoa, Italy

As the death toll grew to 39, more than 300 rescue workers were last night searching through the wreckage of the Ponte Morandi in Genoa in a search for survivors.

Only seven people were known to be pulled alive from under the bridge last night.

Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte yesterday declared a 12-month state of emergency in the region.

Speaking yesterday Lisa, who works for the RAC, said their lucky escape was all thanks to brief stop-off at motorway services otherwise they would have been travelling on the bridge at the time of the tragedy.

She said: “We had stopped at a service station to use the toilet. Thank God, or it could have been worse.

“I was driving. The rain was so severe you could only see a few cars in front of you. Something didn’t feel right. We felt we were sliding to the right. The car moved sideways and we shuddered. We thought it was the wind but now we wonder if it was the road twisting.

“Everyone’s red lights came on.

“Then it seemed like seconds later the reverse lights came on. The car in front reversed and crashed into us. Nobody could really move.”

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Lisa and Nicola Henton-Mitchell from Oxfordshire, escaped the bridge collapse

The couple saw terrified motorists fleeing past their stricken car in the torrential downpour shouting warning others of the scene ahead of them.

The family from Bicester, Oxfordshire, had no time to put shoes on their daughter Jorja who is disabled.

Lisa added: “My son Elliot grabbed a rucksack with a few bits in. Fortunately it had our passports and a phone in. Everyone just ran into the tunnel. Car doors and lorry doors were being opened constantly.

“When we got to the tunnel, everybody was crying, distraught.”

Soaked and frightened, the family took shelter with hundreds of other survivors.

Several emergency services turned up to the scene to recover people who were injured or trapped

The chaos continued as at first nobody knew what had happened and the family found it incredibly difficult to get information with very few people speaking English.

Fortunately a Belgian couple stuck in the tunnel with them were able to help.

Lisa said: “They gave the children some dry tops to put on. It went round that the bridge had collapsed.”

A bus transported the survivors from the tunnel to a civic centre in the north-eastern city where authorities provided people with water, clothes and blankets, while a volunteer helped them to find a hotel.

Lisa told how she comforted the children by taking them for a McDonald’s and little Jorja was treated to a free ice cream by the staff.

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“We’ve tried to shield them from how serious it was,” said Lisa.

Several people were left stranded after losing their cars and homes

The family asked their travel insurance company to fly them home but they have refused.

They have little more than their money and passports but are thankful to all the “truly lovely, kind people” who have helped them.

Other survivors last night also told how they cheated death.

Former Italian football league goalkeeper Davide Capello told how he was miraculously rescued after plummeting as the bridge gave way underneith him.

Other survivors last night also told how they cheated death.

Former Italian football league goalkeeper Davide Capello told how he was miraculously rescued after plummeting as the bridge gave way underneath him.

The the one-time Serie A player said: “I went down with the bridge, I do not know what saved me. I heard a dull sound, I saw the road going down and I was going down with her.

“It was lucid and I immediately called the firemen, then my family, it was a shocking, I feel miraculous.”

Antonio Rubino was just four yards from the edge. He slammed on the brakes of his car just short of the point at which the bridge, which was built in the 1960s, collapsed.

He said: “I was the last car behind those who died. In front of me the asphalt just completely collapsed. I’m alive by a miracle. Luckily I was not shunted from behind otherwise I would have gone down with the others. I was three, maybe four metres from the abyss. There was total panic. People got out of the cars and ran.”

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Valentina Galbusera told of her close shave: “The bridge fell in front of me, not even 20 metres away, I avoided the collapse by only a couple of seconds. I felt the bridge was shaking and I tried to reverse. Then I got out of the car and started running.

Four Italian holidaymakers who were due to y to France but chose to drive at the last minute have been named among those killed.

Matteo Bentornati, Giovanni Battiloro, Gerardo Esposito and Antonio Stanzione, had contacted Mr Stanzione’s parents at 11am on Tuesday to say they were “entering Genoa” around half an hour before they died.

An Italian family of three who were driving to Sardinia for a holiday were also among those killed.

Roberto Robbiano, his wife Ersilia Piccinino and their seven-year-old son Samuele died when their car plummeted to the ground.

Mr Robbiano, a 41-year-old computer technician, posted a photo of Sardinia on his Facebook page just hours before the family were killed.

Alberto Fanfani, 32, an anesthesiologist, and his fiancee Marta Danisi, 29, a nurse, were also killed. The pair were due to marry next year.

Other victims included father Andrea Vittone, 49, his partner Claudia Possetti, 48, and their children Manuele and Camilla Bellasio, aged 16 and 12.

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