The eurosceptic leader of right-wing Lega party lashed out at Brussels just hours after the tragedy.
Speaking to reporters, he said: “If external constraints prevent us from spending to have safe roads and schools, then it really calls into question whether it makes sense to follow these rules.
“There can be no trade-off between fiscal rules and the safety of Italians.”
But while economic constraints are the main cause of the collapse, Mr Salvini’s allegations against the EU seem to have little foundation.
There can be no tradeoff between fiscal rules and the safety of Italians
Brussels has in place a £280.74billion (€315bn) programme designed to improve and renew infrastructure, and the EU issues annual recommendations to national governments about how they could best spend the money.
The advice for 2018 were released after the Italian election, which took place on March 4, and specifically called on the new government to “foster research, innovation, digital skills and infrastructure through better-targeted investment”.
The Five Star Movement (M5S), currently in a coalition government with Mr Salvini’s party, is now under scrutiny for including the bridge refurbishment project on a list of works at risk of being scrapped “if the costs outweigh the benefits”.
Antonio Occhiuzzi, director of the technology institute of construction at the National Council of Research, said the bridge collapsed because the mainstays which supported it were based on technology already proven to be short-lived on other buildings in the country.
But their replacement would have cost £31.91million (€35m), a sum that authorities deemed not necessary to spend just a couple of years ago, according to Italian daily Repubblica.
Early speculation from other experts also argued the collapse of Morandi bridge, built in 1967 and named after the engineer who designed it, was due to a structural failure.
Antonio Brencich, a professor specialising in reinforced concrete construction at the University of Genoa, said: “Morandi bridge was constantly under maintenance.
“It was affected by severe problems of corrosion linked to the technology that Mr Morandi himself patented and it revealed to be a failure.”
Mr Brencich had already raised the alarm over the danger posed by the bridge in 2016, calling its span «a failure of engineering”.
He added: «But there will be a time when the cost of maintenance will be higher than a replacement.»
Other experts added the collapse may have been triggered by the torrential rain that hit Italy after months of heatwave.
Associate professor in structural mechanics at the University of Southampton in the UK, Mehdi Kashani, argued the combination of maintenance issues and pressure from “dynamic loads”, including traffic and wind, could have resulted in «fatigue damage in bridge components».
The responsibility for maintenance of the Morandi bridge was shared among the region, local authorities, and the state-owned highway company Anas.
Earlier today, the transport ministry called for the resignation of the top management of Anas.
And yesterday, after describing the collapse as an “immense tragedy” Mr Toninelli said: We will verify that [maintenance checks] have been done.
“If there is even just one responsible, he must pay.”
Rescuers are still working to pull out people from the rubble.
At least 35 people died, including three children, and dozens more were injured during the tragedy.