The Italian government, the new anti-establishment coalition at the helm - said the collapse showed Italy needed to spend more on its dilapidated infrastructure, ignoring European Union budget constraints if necessary. At one point, Sky TG24 said, residents were temporarily stopped from even returning to their homes briefly to grab essential documents, medicine or other necessities.
Rescue workers combed through the rubble of Italy's bridge collapse on Wednesday as the death toll climbed to 37 and the government blamed the bridge's private owner, demanding resignations and moving to strip its toll concession.
Still, the head of Italy's transport department has said that a $22.7 million safety upgrade for the bridge had been planned.
Borrelli said some 1,000 rescuers have been working since after the collapse Tuesday to search for "any possible missing" persons. Sixteen people were injured.
The victims include children aged 8, 12 and 13, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said on Wednesday, adding that more people were still missing.
A family of three were killed after their vehicle fell from the bridge - Roberto Robbiano, 44, Ersilia Piccinino, 41, and their young son Samuel. According to the business daily Il Sole, the improvement work involved two weight-bearing columns that support the bridge - including one that collapsed Tuesday.
The technology of pre-stressed reinforced concrete used in the construction of the bridge was the hallmark of its designer, the celebrated Italian engineer Riccardo Morandi, who died in 1989.
The incident - the deadliest of its kind in Europe since 2001 - is the latest in a string of bridge collapses in Italy, a country prone to damage from seismic activity but where infrastructure generally is showing the effects of a faltering economy. It called for a "Marshall Plan" to fix or replace tens of thousands of Italian bridges and viaducts built in the 1950s and 1960s.
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Deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio, who is due to arrive in Genoa on Wednesday morning, said the tragedy "could have been avoided".
"Instead of investing money for maintenance, they divide the profits".
Italy's deputy premier, Luigi Di Maio, blamed the bridge collapse on a lack of maintenance by the private company that operates numerous nation's toll highways.
But Autostrade, a unit of Milan-listed Atlantia group, said it had done regular, sophisticated checks on the structure before the disaster, relying on "companies and institutions which are world leaders in testing and inspections" and that these had provided reassuring results.
Atlantia and Autostrade did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Italy's transportation and infrastructure minister, Danilo Toninelli, from the populist 5-Star Movement, threatened in a Facebook post that the Italian government could take direct control of the highway agency if it couldn't properly maintain the country's roadways.
State radio reported Wednesday that some 5-Star lawmakers in 2013 had questioned the wisdom of an ambitious, expensive infrastructure highway overhaul program as possibly wasteful, but that a post about that on the Movement's site was removed Tuesday after the bridge's collapse.