Casiah Cagan | Report

35 people have been confirmed dead and many more injured after the collapse of a highway bridge in Genova, Italy early Tuesday morning.

The Morandi Bridge runs along a section of the main highway on the Mediterranean coast of Italy which links the country to France.

Witnesses say that lightning struck the bridge around 11:30 a.m. local time during a heavy rainstorm.

The bridge then collapsed soon after, causing citizens and those caught in the traffic to panic.

Vehicles and debris from the bridge fell 90m onto a railway and warehouse below, as well as many homes in the immediate surrounding area.

Emergency workers, including an estimated 200 firefighters, are currently on the scene working to free citizens trapped in their vehicles or any other people who find themselves trapped in the rubble of the bridge using sniffer dogs.

Italian Transport Minister Donilo Toninelli has called this “an enormous tragedy.”

Though it is too early to know the exact cause of the collapse, it is speculated that the foundation of the Morandi Bridge was simply weakened by corrosion over the 50 years it had been standing.

While some sources say that the bridge had been under construction at the time of the collapse, others say that there was no maintainance currently conducted though a multi-million dollar safety project was being planned for the bridge in the near future.

The area of the accident is currently under evacuation to avoid further injury.

French President Emmanuel Macron has expressed sympathy to the victims of the tragedy and offered assistance to Italians via Twitter, as well as speaking to Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte over the phone.

The collapse of the bridge was seen as unexpected and unpredictable by the operator of the motorway, who says that there was no reason for the bridge to be previously considered dangerous.

More details to follow. Featured image of the Morandi Bridge from Luca Zennaro/ANSA via AP.

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