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article imagePaperwork delay proves fatal in Italy bridge collapse

By AFP     Oct 29, 2016 in World

Italy's notorious bureaucracy was blamed Saturday for the death of a pensioner killed when a road bridge collapsed hours after the highway agency asked for its closure on safety grounds.

ANAS, the company which runs the country's main roads, said it had "repeatedly requested the immediate closure" of the bridge over the SS36 dual carriageway between Milan and Lecco from 2 p.m onwards on Friday afternoon, after one of its staff reported it to be crumbling in parts.

The bridge collapsed just over three hours later under the weight of an articulated lorry that had been given special authorisation to carry an exceptionally heavy load.

Claudio Bertini, 68, who was travelling on the road below, died when his car was crushed by the collapsing bridge. Ten others were injured in the resulting crashes and police said it was remarkable the rush hour accident had not caused more fatalities.

ANAS said the road had not been closed immediately because the provincial authorities had asked for the request to be put in writing, a step that required a formal inspection of the site.

An inspector was on his way to the bridge when it collapsed, ANAS said in a statement.

The province of Lecco denied that it had allowed an obsession with paperwork to compromise public safety.

"ANAS's account of what happened does not accord with the information we have about what happened," it said in a statement.

The minister of infrastructure has ordered a review of the accident and a preliminary criminal investigation has been opened.

Italy is famed for its bureaucracy with even the most basic services requiring extensive form filling and red tape regularly cited as a significant barrier to investment and growth.

Employers organisation Confindustria complains that entrepreneurs have to deal with at least ten different authorities and frequently spend as much time on administration as on building their companies.

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