Italian Bridge Collapse: Miraculous Tales Of Survival

“I was the last car behind those who died."

Antonio Rubino was just seconds from death when the ground started crumbling before him. 

His car screeched to a halt as the bridge he was driving on in the Italian city of Genoa collapsed before his eyes, watching others plummet about 45 metres into the rubble below.

“I was the last car behind those who died,” he told Britain's The Telegraph 

“In front of me, the asphalt just completely collapsed. I’m alive by miracle.'
A truck driver screeched to a halt metres before the collapsed section of the bridge. bridge. Image: AAP

“Luckily I was not shunted from behind, otherwise I would have gone down with the others. I was three, maybe four metres from the abyss.”

At least 26 people died and many others were injured when a section of the Morandi Bridge collapsed during a heavy thunderstorm in the Italian port city.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Contee said it was an “immense tragedy” that was “inconceivable in a modern system like ours, a modern country."

Up to 35 cars and between five and ten trucks are believed to have plunged to the ground. Huge slabs of reinforced concrete slammed onto two warehouses, train tracks and a riverbed.

“There was total panic. People got out of the cars and ran,” Rubino said.

His story is one of few miraculous tales of escape -- including a supermarket delivery van driver who narrowly avoided death. 

A photograph of the green van shows the driver screeching to a halt just metres from the collapsed section of the bridge. 

Firefighters and emergency workers have spent the night searching the rubble for survivors who have been pulled to safety, as officials look to determine the cause of the collapse.