A TRUCK driver who escaped certain death in the Genoa bridge disaster has told how his life was only saved when he was overtaken by another driver.
The 37-year-old revealed how he quickly slammed on his brakes when the car that shot past him toppled 150ft over the edge of the collapsed structure.
The driver - named only as Luigi - said: "I saved myself because a car overtook me and I slowed down. I saw her fall with the others (and) I braked suddenly.
"I put the reverse gear on then I opened the door and I ran away. The truck stayed there with the engine running ".
The married father-of-two, who lives in Genoa, told pals how he stared "death in the face" and has been left devastated by his life-changing ordeal.
He is reported to have locked himself away with his family as he tries to get to grips with just how close he came to dying.
Luigi told friends how he was driving back to his warehouse in a storm after finishing his morning deliveries when disaster struck.
Although he escaped the shocking incident without a scratch friends fear it will still take him a long time to get over what happened on Tuesday morning.
WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR:
- At least 38 people are known to have died
- 'Many' more have been seriously injured
- Four people have been rescued alive
- 35 cars and three heavy vehicles involved
- A 200m stretch of the road collapsed
Photos of Luigi's Volvo supermarket delivery truck perched on the edge of the bridge made headlines around the world and videos of the vehicle show that its windscreen wipers are still running today.
And that could spell bad news for the emergency crews working at the horrific disaster scene today, say Luigi's bosses.
Annalisa Damonte, of haulage company Damonte Trasporti, told La Repubblica that "from the satellite we are able to see that the vehicle has three quarters of tank and it is still lit.
"It could go on like this three or four days (with)the risks of overheating ". On board the vehicle there are just under 400 litres of diesel.
Luigi had been working for the for the company for a year, but is said to have years of experience working as a truck driver.
Moroccan lorry driver, Afifi Idriss, 39, told Agence France-Presse: "I saw the green lorry in front of me stop and then reverse so I stopped too, locked the truck and ran."
Valentina Galbusera, 43, a doctor, told La Stampa: "The bridge fell in front of me, not even 20m away, I avoided the collapse by only a couple of seconds.
"I felt the bridge was shaking and I tried to reverse. Then I got out of the car and started running."
Stories of the miracle escapes come as rescuers - including specialist earthquake units - desperately search for survivors among the rubble of the huge structure - which collapsed without warning.
Rescue and recovery efforts continued through the night into the morning while authorities confirmed the death toll has risen to 38 .
Emergency workers searched through tons of concrete slabs and steel for survivors or bodies from the collapse a day earlier on the eve of Wednesday's summer Ferragosto holiday.
Fire crews revealed no new survivors had been found overnight, but three more bodies had been discovered.
Teams with dogs are aiding search and rescue operations, but rescuers are not hearing or seeing any signs of life, he said, adding the situation around the bridge site is still dangerous.
Genoa police spokeswoman Alessandra Bucci said: “We are continuing with the rescue operations because we think there are other people alive under the rubble. We hope to find more people alive.”
Marcello de Angelis, who is co-ordinating the Italian Red Cross in the region, revealed the emergency services were treating the incident as if it were an earthquake.
He told the BBC: “There might be the possibility of some niches being created by the rubble itself, with people being protected by the rubble.
“The units that we have sent are the units that we use during earthquakes.
“So it is the same sort of situation, and also the risk of other collapses, obviously is the same.”
Close to 300 firefighters and emergency services personnel were involved in the operation on Tuesday, and up to twelve people are reportedly still missing.
Fire service official Emanuele Gissi said: “We’re not giving up hope, we’ve already saved a dozen people from under the rubble.
“We’re going to work round the clock until the last victim is found.”
The government will also look into stripping Autostrade per l'Italia, a unit of the Atlantia group, of the concession to manage the motorway that included the Morandi Bridge, and imposing financial penalties on the group, Danilo Toninelli said.
Atlantia and Autostrade per l'Italia could not immediately be reached for comment
What caused an 80-meter (260-foot) long stretch of highway to break off from the 45-meter (150 foot) high Morandi Bridge in the northwestern port city is under investigation.
However, it has been reported there had been proposals to upgrade the 1967 bridge.
Among the dead was Roberto Robbiano, his wife Ersilia Piccinino and their son seven-year-old son Samuele, identified by local media, and who hailed from the Campomorone north of Genoa.
Roberto was a computer technician who married Ersilia in 2014.
Amateur football player Andrea Cerulli, has also been named among the victims.
His club, posted a picture of the sportsman on Facebook with the message: "Genoa club port is is running around Andrea's family, our associate, our friend, our colleague, victim of Ponte Morandi's tragedy."
It added: "Goodbye Andrea."
Luigi Matti Altadonna, 35, also perished in the freak tragedy, prompting an emotional message from the mayor of his hometown of Borghetto.
Mayor Borghettino Giancarlo Canepa said: "The municipal administration joins the pain of Giovanni, a model citizen and an exemplary volunteer of the Civil Protection Section of Borghetto, for the loss of his dear nephew in the terrible tragedy of Genoa."
Luigi died driving his work van over the bridge.
Mirko Vicini, a ground worker for waste management firm Amiu, was killed alongside an unnamed co-worker, by falling debris.
The pair were working on the island of Campi below the bridge.
Company director Tiziana Merlino said: "Among the bodies found in the rubble, a colleague engaged in the unit territorial unit.
"Damage is incalculable but never comparable to the pain that afflicts us for the loss of our colleague".
MOST READ IN NEWS
The Ponte Morandi road on the A10 motorway in northern Italy crashed onto houses and offices below at 11.30am local time during a "violent" lightning storm.
Italian footballer Davide Capello, 33, revealed how he fell 160 feet when he was driving over the doomed bridge.
Meanwhile, ITV anchorman Tom Bradby was slammed by viewers for his "insensitive" coverage of the tragedy.
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at email@example.com or call 0207 782 4368. You can WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502. We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.