Scenes from a highway bridge collapsing in Genoa, Italy, on Tuesday are shocking and terrifying: Rain was pouring down as part of the bridge gave way, sending cars flying 150 feet below and killing dozens of people. Emergency workers were left shifting through the rubble in search of survivors.
As The Washington Post’s Chico Harlan and Avi Selk reported on Tuesday, “video shows eyewitnesses screaming just after a section of the bridge gave way. One truck was stopped a few feet from the edge of the chasm — the edge of the bridge sheared cleanly off.”
Infrastructure problems have repeatedly caused bridges — both new and old — to collapse around the world. Below are the stories behind a handful of dangerous bridge failures.
In March 2018, six people died in Miami after a pedestrian bridge collapsed on top of on the street below. The Post wrote in March that cars were stopped at a red light when the more than 950-ton bridge fell on top of them. The bridge was supposed to make crossing a busy road safer for students at Florida International University.
In August 2016, as at least two buses crossed over the colonial-era bridge connecting the Indian towns of Mahad and Poladpur in the country’s west, the structure gave out and collapsed into the Savitri River. The Indian Express reported at the time that search efforts were made more difficult because of persistent heavy rain. Around 30 people were reportedly feared dead or missing. The Hindustan Times reported that in 2000, another bridge was built parallel to the one that eventually collapsed. But traffic flowed on both of them, with one bridge designated for those bound to Mumbai and the other for those heading to Goa. After the collapse, the government quickly began construction on a new, three-lane bridge.
In January 2018, a large bridge intended to help ease travel between the city of Villavicencio and the capital of Bogota collapsed while it was under construction. At least 10 workers died, and the New York Times reported that they fell about 900 feet — the bridge was about 1,500 feet long and sat over a gorge.
The Chinese-built Sigiri Bridge in Kenya cost millions of dollars and was celebrated by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who tweeted that it "will significantly reduce deaths and make it easier for the residents to access markets, schools and hospitals.” Two weeks later it collapsed.
Quartz Africa reported that at least 27 workers were injured when part of it crashed down last year. It was not yet complete at the time, but the bridge was intended to improve safety for those trying to cross the river below, where a boat had previously capsized and killed its passengers.
In 1981, 114 people died when a walkway at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Kansas City, Mo., collapsed onto a crowded group of people dancing in a contest below. The Post reported on the deadly incident at the time, saying that around 100 people were watching from a second-floor walkway in the lobby, which was just below a fourth-floor walkway, when the top one “suddenly buckled into the center, crashing down onto the second floor walkway and smashing it onto the dance floor.”
On top of the initial collapse, “the falling debris severed a number of water pipes which began to gush water onto the chaotic scene on the lobby floor,” The Post wrote.