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No casualties reported after Italian motorway bridge collapses in landslide

MILAN (Reuters) - A motorway bridge collapsed on Sunday in Italy’s northwestern region of Liguria near the coastal city of Savona, following a massive landslide caused by recent heavy rain.

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No casualties had been reported to date, SIAS SIS.MI, the company which operates the A6 highway linking the coast to Turin, said in a statement.

“Everyone’s effort at this stage is aimed at confirming that this is the case” Autostrada dei Fiori, a unit of SIAS, said.

SIAS said the collapse of around 20 meters of the 50-meter long viaduct located just outside Savona came after an “exceptional” landslide caused by days of heavy rain.

The landslide originated from a mountain which overlooks the motorway and hit one of the pillars of the bridge at around 2 p.m. (1300 GMT), SIAS said, adding that it was not responsible for the condition of the mountain.

Earlier on Sunday, Liguria’s president Giovanni Toti said at a news conference that the bridge collapse might have affected one car but that he had no evidence and searches were continuing.

Liguria is the same region where a motorway bridge collapsed last year in Genoa, killing 43 people. Known as the Morandi Bridge, it was operated by Autostrade per l'Italia, a unit of infrastructure group Atlantia ATL.MI.

Heavy rains have caused widespread flooding in northern Italy this month.

SIAS said the motorway had been shut in both directions, although only one of the two separate carriageways had collapsed while first assessments indicated the other was undamaged.

Toti said that a local road near the motorway had also been washed away by the landslide.

Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari; Editing by David Clarke and Kirsten Donovan