State Of Emergency Declared In Red Tide-Devastated Areas Of Florida

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for parts of the state affected by a harmful algal bloom, also known as a red tide.

Florida is no stranger to red tides. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, these toxic algal blooms happen nearly every summer along the Gulf Coast. But this year, Scott says the bloom has been devastating.

Dead marine life has washed up on beaches along the Gulf Coast. The stench has driven away tourists.

As part of the order, more than $100,000 has been alloted for biologists and scientists assisting with saving animals and cleaning up the beaches. Scott has also ordered $500,000 go to Florida's tourism board to help local people and businesses recover from the drop in vacationers.

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Arizonans got 78.3 million robocalls in June, part of a boom nationwide

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Bryan Pietsch

Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018

Arizonans got 78.3 million robocalls in June, part of a boom nationwide

WASHINGTON - Robocalls skyrocketed for every area code in Arizona in the first half of this year, reaching 78.3 million calls in June alone, according to data compiled by a firm that sells call-blocking software. The Arizona spike mirrored a national trend, with the total number of robocalls in the U.S. hitting 4.1 billion in the month of June, up from 2.9 billion for January, according to the data from YouMail. The increase came despite Federal Communications Commission regulations aimed at reining in such calls. "It's become a real problem and agencies at all levels of government are trying to deal with it," said Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy at the Consumer Federation of America. In Arizona, the number of calls rose from just under 48.1 million in January. The 431.5 million calls to area codes in the state in the first six months of this year almost reached the total for all of 2017, when Arizonans received 475.4 million robocalls. The increase can be attributed to the development of technology that allows one person to send out large amounts of calls, said Ed Mierzwinski, senior director of consumer programs at the Arizona Public Interest Research Group. "Now it's one guy with a computer, who could be working anywhere, making all the calls, not a bunch of people in a big room in a building with a giant phone system," Mierzwinski said. He said there are two levels of robocalls, the first being "unfair robocalling from student loan companies and debt collectors and banks" who are "generally harassing people." "They're legitimate businesses but they might not have a legitimate reason to contact you," Mierzwinski said. "They may be contacting you too much. Robocalls are making it too easy." -Cronkite News graphic by Bryan Pietsch The FCC notes on its website that not all robocalls are illegal - and Mierzwinski added that what could be illegal is simply the debt collectors surpassing the number of times they are allowed to contact borrowers. But the next level of robocalls come from "bad guys" - people who, in Mierzwinski's words, have "no reason to live, basically." Those scammers use computer software to send out mass amounts of calls, usually from overseas. The scammers can now use a trick called spoofing, when one phone number is masked as another. Spoofing itself is legal; a doctor or a public official can use it to display an office number, for example, when calling from a cell phone. But the FCC says that spoofing "with the intent to defraud, cause harm or wrongly obtain anything of value" is illegal and can lead to fines of up to $10,000. The FCC website also states that rules require telemarketers - which are legitimate businesses - to provide an automated menu throughout the call for people to get off the calling list. But the FCC also warns not to engage in such menus from unknown or spoofed numbers. "I'm glad that the Federal Communications Commission has succeeded in lighting a fire under the telephone companies to get them to work together to create ways to identify spoofed calls," Grant said. But Mierzwinski said that the FCC needs to do more and that "they've done a terrible job" managing the growing problem of robocalls. He urged consumers to call their telephone service providers and ask them to "improve the way that they are trying to block robocalls." "The robocalls keep coming," Mierzwinski said. "They're rapidly growing into being an epidemic of nuisance." -Cronkite News reporter Pat Poblete contributed to this report. Read more

Trump Campaign Takes Legal Action Against Omarosa

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President Donald Trump's campaign is taking legal action against former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman. 

An official told media outlets Tuesday the campaign filed an arbitration accusing her of violating a 2016 nondisclosure agreement she signed with the Trump campaign.  

In a statement, the official said, in part, "President Trump is well known for giving people opportunities to advance in their careers and lives over the decades, but wrong is wrong, and a direct violation of an agreement must be addressed and the violator must be held accountable." 

This is just the latest in an escalating war of words between Omarosa and the president. After sharing what appear to be secretly recorded conversations with both the president and chief of staff John Kelly, she also claimed she heard Trump use racial slurs on a recording. 

Trump responded on Twitter, at some points referring to her as "Wacky Omarosa" and "that dog!" 

The legal move comes on the same day Manigault Newman released a tell-all book about her time in the White House, called "Unhinged."

The White House responded to the book's claims, saying it's "riddled with lies and false accusations."

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.  

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Trump Calls Omarosa ‘That Dog’ as Campaign Takes Legal Step Against Her

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by CATHERINE LUCEY and JILL COLVIN / The Associated Press.

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump escalated his messy clash with former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman on Tuesday, referring to the longtime colleague, who had been the top African-American in his White House, as “that dog!”

The pressure on Manigault Newman increased, as the Trump presidential campaign filed arbitration action against her, alleging a breach of a confidentiality agreement. A campaign official said the action was filed with the American Arbitration Association.

Trump tweeted a barrage of insults Tuesday morning as Manigault Newman continued promoting her White House tell-all and releasing secret audio recordings. Her book paints a damning picture of Trump, including her claim that he used racial slurs on the set of his reality show “The Apprentice.”

“When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out,” Trump said. “Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!” John Kelly is White House chief of staff.

While Trump trades in insults on a near daily basis, deeming Manigault Newman a “dog” was a stunning move in a row that touched on several sensitive issues in Trump’s White House, including a lack of racial diversity among senior officials, security concerns — Manigault Newman taped her firing in the White House Situation Room — and extraordinary measures such as non-disclosure agreements to keep ex-employees quiet.

Trump has also pushed back against Manigault Newman’s claim that she had heard an audiotape of him using the N-word. He tweeted that he had received a call from the producer of “The Apprentice” assuring him “there are NO TAPES of the Apprentice where I used such a terrible and disgusting word as attributed by Wacky and Deranged Omarosa.”

Trump insisted, “I don’t have that word in my vocabulary, and never have.” He said Manigault Newman had called him “a true Champion of Civil Rights” until she was fired.

Manigault Newman, the former White House liaison to black voters, writes in her new memoir that she’d heard such tapes existed. She said Sunday that she had listened to one after the book closed.

On CBS on Tuesday, Manigault Newman released another audio recording that she said showed campaign workers discussing an alleged recording of Trump using the racial slur. The White House and the campaign did not immediately respond to questions.

One of the people allegedly featured on the tape is Katrina Pierson, an adviser to Trump’s re-election campaign who served as a spokeswoman for his 2016 campaign. Pierson has said she never heard Trump use this type of language and said on Fox that the only person she heard talking about a tape was Manigault Newman. The tape appears to show Pierson saying of Trump: “He said it. He’s embarrassed.”

Asked if the book can be backed up by email or recordings, Manigault Newman said on CBS that every quote in the book “can be verified, corroborated and it’s well documented,” suggesting she may have more information to release.

The dispute has been building for days as Manigault Newman promotes her memoir “Unhinged,” which comes out officially Tuesday.

In a series of interviews, Manigault Newman has also revealed two audio recordings from her time at the White House, including portions of a recording of her firing by Kelly, which she says occurred in the high-security Situation Room, and a phone call with Trump after she was fired.

Manigault Newman says she has more recordings. Asked on MSNBC’s “Hardball” if special counsel Robert Mueller — investigating possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia — would be interested in any of them, she said, “If his office calls again, anything they want, I’ll share.”

Trump officials and a number of outside critics denounced the recordings as a serious breach of ethics and security — and White House aides worried about what else Manigault Newman may have captured in the West Wing.

The tape recording appears to show Trump expressing surprise about her firing, saying “nobody even told me about it.” But Manigault Newman said he “probably instructed General Kelly to do it.”

On Twitter, Trump declared Monday that she had been “fired for the last time,” a reference to her appearances on his reality TV show. He said Kelly had called her a “loser & nothing but problems,” but he himself had tried to save her job — because he liked her public comments about him.

“I told him to try working it out, if possible, because she only said GREAT things about me – until she got fired!” Trump tweeted.

Responding on NBC, Manigault Newman said, “I think it’s sad that with all the things that’s going on in the country that he would take time out to insult me and to insult my intelligence.”

She added, “This is his pattern with African-Americans.”

First lady Melania Trump, meanwhile, is disappointed that Manigault Newman “is lashing out and retaliating in such a self-serving way, especially after all the opportunities given to her by the President,” said White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham.

Manigault Newman’s exit does highlight the lack of diversity among Trump’s top aides. She was the highest-ranking African-American on the White House staff. She said on NBC that in her absence “they’re making decisions about us without us.”

Trump’s battle with Omarosa underscores the racial tensions that have defined his presidency. He notably blamed “both sides” for violent clashes between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, a year ago and has questioned the intelligence of other prominent black figures including California Rep. Maxine Waters, basketball star LeBron James and TV journalist Don Lemon. He also has targeted black NFL players for kneeling in social protest during the national anthem.

Manigault Newman also alleges that Trump allies tried to buy her silence after she left the White House, offering her $15,000 a month to accept a “senior position” on his 2020 re-election campaign along with a stringent nondisclosure agreement.

The offer raises fresh questions about the ways that White House aides are being offered safe landing spots after they leave. For example, Trump’s former personal aide John McEntee, who was removed from his job in April, went to the campaign.

Trump tweeted Monday that Manigault Newman has a “fully signed Non-Disclosure Agreement!”

It was not clear exactly what he was referring to. White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway said Sunday on ABC that there are “confidentiality agreements” in the West Wing. And Trump’s campaign said that in the 2016 race she “signed the exact same NDA that everyone else on the campaign signed, which is still enforceable.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said on “Fox and Friends” Monday that Manigault Newman may have broken the law by recording private conversations inside the White House.

“She’s certainly violating national security regulations, which I think have the force of law,” Giuliani said.

But experts in national security and clearance law said that, while she seriously violated rules — and would likely be barred from ever being granted a security clearance — she probably didn’t break any law unless the conversations she recorded were classified.

In the recording with Kelly, which Manigault Newman quotes extensively in her new book, Kelly can be heard saying that he wants to talk with her about leaving the White House.

“It’s come to my attention over the last few months that there’s been some pretty, in my opinion, significant integrity issues related to you,” Kelly is heard saying, before adding that if she makes it a “friendly departure” then she can “go on without any type of difficulty in the future relative to your reputation.”

Manigault Newman said she viewed the conversation as a “threat” and defended her decision to covertly record it and other White House conversations, saying otherwise “no one” would believe her.

___

Associated Press writers Darlene Superville and Hope Yen contributed to this report.

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Turkey’s President Announces Boycott Of US Electronics

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Turkey's president wants the country to boycott U.S. electronics. 

While announcing the boycott Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan specifically called out Apple as an example. "If [the U.S. has] the iPhone, there is Samsung elsewhere," he said. Erdogan didn't provide other details, including how his government would enforce such a ban. 

This appears to be in response to President Donald Trump doubling tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from Turkey. Those taxes are now 20 percent and 50 percent, respectively. 

The two sides are at somewhat of a standoff over the release of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who's been detained in Turkey for nearly two years now. Turkey claims Brunson has connections to two groups the country considers terrorist organizations — something Brunson denies. 

National Security Adviser John Bolton reportedly told the Turkish ambassador to the U.S. on Monday that until Brunson is freed, the U.S. has no plans to negotiate any further. 

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Paul Ryan’s Achievements Are On The Line In Wisconsin’s Midterms

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The race to replace retiring Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is taking shape in Wisconsin, and Ryan’s biggest accomplishments in Congress could be at stake.

Ryan leaves his 20-year career in Congress just after shepherding a major tax bill through the House. And he has tapped a successor who has pledged to defend the bill, as well the conservative agenda he has championed.

Ryan has endorsed his former political aide Bryan Steil for the nomination from a crowded GOP field. Steil is a member of the University of Wisconsin's Board of Regents and works as a lawyer for manufacturing firms. He's cited his business experience as a model for how he'll govern in Congress.

SEE MORE: Our Primary System Didn't Start With The Framers, So Why Do We Do It?

Democrats are smelling a pickup opportunity, in what could be a huge symbolic rebuke to Ryan's agenda. Republicans still have the edge in the race, but election handicappers like the Cook Political Report say Democrats' odds have improved since Ryan's retirement.

The presumptive Democratic candidate used to be iron worker Randy Bryce, who secured national attention and plenty of funds early during his campaign against Ryan. But Bryce no longer has an obvious foil now that Ryan's out — and his primary opponent, schoolteacher Cathy Myers, has capitalized on Bryce's arrest record and financial issues to pull even against him.

Both Democratic candidates are championing the sort of pricey progressive programs that would have been anathema to Ryan, including a $15 minimum wage and Medicare for All. They're also opposed to Ryan's tax plan, which could be imperiled if Democrats manage to retake Congress.

Bryce and Myers are also both veterans of Wisconsin's once-strong union scene, which has seen its political muscle decimated under Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Union membership in the state has dropped from around 14 percent to 8 percent since 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But if Democrats can't count on the unions to put them over the top, Republicans might not be able to rely on the White House for a boost either. A recent NBC-Marist poll pegged President Trump's approval rating in the state at around 36 percent of registered voters, with disapproval at 52 percent.

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Facebook Exec Threatens News Outlets in Private Meeting

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Jake Johnson / Common Dreams.

During a closed-door and off-the-record meeting last week, top Facebook executive Campbell Brown reportedly warned news publishers that refusal to cooperate with the tech behemoth’s efforts to “revitalize journalism” will leave media outlets dying “like in a hospice.”

Reported first by The Australian under a headline which read “Work With Facebook or Die: Zuckerberg,” the social media giant has insisted the comments were taken out of context, even as five individuals who attended the four-hour meeting corroborated what Brown had stated.

“Mark doesn’t care about publishers but is giving me a lot of leeway and concessions to make these changes,” Brown reportedly said, referring to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “We will help you revitalize journalism… in a few years the reverse looks like I’ll be holding hands with your dying business like in a hospice.”

As The Guardian reported on Monday, Facebook is “vehemently” denying the veracity of the comments as reported by The Australian, referring to its own transcript of the meeting. However, Facebook is refusing to release its transcript and tape of the gathering.

Brown’s warning about the dire prospects for news outlets that don’t get on board with a future in which corporate giants like Facebook are the arbiters of what is and isn’t trustworthy news comes as progressives are raising alarm that Facebook’s entrance into the world of journalism poses a major threat to non-corporate and left-wing news outlets.

As Common Dreams reported in July, progressives’ fears were partly confirmed after Facebook unveiled its first slate of news “segments” as part of its Facebook Watch initiative.

While Facebook claims its initiative is part of an effort to combat “misinformation,” its first series of segments were dominated by such corporate outlets as Fox News and CNN.

Reacting to Brown’s reported assertion that Zuckerberg “doesn’t care about publishers,” Judd Legum, who writes the Popular Information newsletter,argued, “Anyone who does care about news needs to understand Facebook as a fundamental threat.”

“In addition to disputed quote, there are also Facebook’s actions, which are fully consistent with the quote,” Legum added. “We desperately need to develop alternative delivery mechanisms to Facebook.”

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Facebook Exec Threatens News Outlets in Private Meeting

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Jake Johnson / Common Dreams.

During a closed-door and off-the-record meeting last week, top Facebook executive Campbell Brown reportedly warned news publishers that refusal to cooperate with the tech behemoth’s efforts to “revitalize journalism” will leave media outlets dying “like in a hospice.”

Reported first by The Australian under a headline which read “Work With Facebook or Die: Zuckerberg,” the social media giant has insisted the comments were taken out of context, even as five individuals who attended the four-hour meeting corroborated what Brown had stated.

“Mark doesn’t care about publishers but is giving me a lot of leeway and concessions to make these changes,” Brown reportedly said, referring to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “We will help you revitalize journalism… in a few years the reverse looks like I’ll be holding hands with your dying business like in a hospice.”

As The Guardian reported on Monday, Facebook is “vehemently” denying the veracity of the comments as reported by The Australian, referring to its own transcript of the meeting. However, Facebook is refusing to release its transcript and tape of the gathering.

Brown’s warning about the dire prospects for news outlets that don’t get on board with a future in which corporate giants like Facebook are the arbiters of what is and isn’t trustworthy news comes as progressives are raising alarm that Facebook’s entrance into the world of journalism poses a major threat to non-corporate and left-wing news outlets.

As Common Dreams reported in July, progressives’ fears were partly confirmed after Facebook unveiled its first slate of news “segments” as part of its Facebook Watch initiative.

While Facebook claims its initiative is part of an effort to combat “misinformation,” its first series of segments were dominated by such corporate outlets as Fox News and CNN.

Reacting to Brown’s reported assertion that Zuckerberg “doesn’t care about publishers,” Judd Legum, who writes the Popular Information newsletter,argued, “Anyone who does care about news needs to understand Facebook as a fundamental threat.”

“In addition to disputed quote, there are also Facebook’s actions, which are fully consistent with the quote,” Legum added. “We desperately need to develop alternative delivery mechanisms to Facebook.”

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25 Killed in Bridge Collapse on Main Highway Linking Italy to France

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by COLLEEN BARRY / The Associated Press.

MILAN—A bridge on a main highway linking Italy with France collapsed Tuesday in the Italian port city of Genoa during a sudden, violent storm, sending vehicles plunging 45 meters (nearly 150 feet) into a heap of rubble. The city’s mayor said at least 25 people were killed, although some people were found alive in the debris.

A huge section of the Morandi Bridge fell at midday over an industrial zone, sending tons of twisted steel and concrete onto warehouses below. Photos from the Italian news agency ANSA showed a massive gap between two sections of the bridge.

The head of Italy’s civil protection agency, Angelo Borrelli, said 30-35 cars and three heavy trucks were on the 80-meter (260-foot) section of the bridge that collapsed.

Hundreds of firefighters and emergency officials were searching for survivors in the rubble with heavy equipment. Firefighters said at least two people were pulled alive from vehicles and taken by helicopter to a hospital.

Video of the collapse captured a man screaming: “Oh, God! Oh, God!” Other images showed a green truck that had stopped just short of the edge and the tires of a tractor trailer in the rubble.

There was confusion over the exact death toll, which kept rising during the day.

Genoa Mayor Marco Bucci told Sky TG24 that the number of dead was above 25 people and that 11 injured were pulled from the rubble. Two other officials earlier put the death toll at 22 with 13 injured but said it was expected to rise.

Borrelli told a news conference in Rome that all the victims appeared to all have been in vehicles that fell from the bridge.

The disaster occurred on a highway that connects Italy to France, and northern cities like Milan to the beaches of Liguria.

The collapse also came on the eve of a major Italian summer holiday on Wednesday called Ferragosto, which marks the religious feast of the Assumption of Mary. It’s the high point of the Italian summer holiday season, when most cities and business are closed and Italians head to the beaches or the mountains. That means traffic could have been heavier than usual on the Genoa highway.

The Morandi Bridge is a main thoroughfare connecting the A10 highway that goes toward France and the A7 highway that continues north toward Milan. Inaugurated in 1967, it is just over a kilometer (.6 miles) long.

Borrelli said highway engineers were checking other parts of the bridge and that some areas were being evacuated as a precaution. He said they were still trying to figure out the reason for the collapse.

“You can see there are very big portions of the bridge (that collapsed). We need to remove all of the rubble to ascertain that all of the people have been reached,” he said, adding that more than 280 rescue workers and dogs units were on the scene.

“Operations are ongoing to extract people imprisoned below parts of the bridge and twisted metal,” he said.

Borrelli said there was no construction going on at the time on the bridge.

Firefighters told The Associated Press they were worried about gas lines exploding in the area from the collapse.

Transportation Minister Danilo Toninelli called the collapse “an enormous tragedy.”

ANSA said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will travel to Genoa later in the day.

“We are following minute by minute the situation,” Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said on Twitter.

French President Emmanuel Macron offered his country’s help in a phone call with Conte.

It was the second deadly disaster on an Italian highway in as many weeks.

On Aug. 6, another major accident occurred on an Italian highway near the northern city of Bologna. A tanker truck carrying a highly flammable gas exploded after rear-ending a stopped truck and getting hit from behind. The accident killed one person, injured dozens and blew apart a section of a raised eight-lane highway.

___

Simone Somekh contributed from Rome.

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25 Killed in Bridge Collapse on Main Highway Linking Italy to France

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by COLLEEN BARRY / The Associated Press.

MILAN—A bridge on a main highway linking Italy with France collapsed Tuesday in the Italian port city of Genoa during a sudden, violent storm, sending vehicles plunging 45 meters (nearly 150 feet) into a heap of rubble. The city’s mayor said at least 25 people were killed, although some people were found alive in the debris.

A huge section of the Morandi Bridge fell at midday over an industrial zone, sending tons of twisted steel and concrete onto warehouses below. Photos from the Italian news agency ANSA showed a massive gap between two sections of the bridge.

The head of Italy’s civil protection agency, Angelo Borrelli, said 30-35 cars and three heavy trucks were on the 80-meter (260-foot) section of the bridge that collapsed.

Hundreds of firefighters and emergency officials were searching for survivors in the rubble with heavy equipment. Firefighters said at least two people were pulled alive from vehicles and taken by helicopter to a hospital.

Video of the collapse captured a man screaming: “Oh, God! Oh, God!” Other images showed a green truck that had stopped just short of the edge and the tires of a tractor trailer in the rubble.

There was confusion over the exact death toll, which kept rising during the day.

Genoa Mayor Marco Bucci told Sky TG24 that the number of dead was above 25 people and that 11 injured were pulled from the rubble. Two other officials earlier put the death toll at 22 with 13 injured but said it was expected to rise.

Borrelli told a news conference in Rome that all the victims appeared to all have been in vehicles that fell from the bridge.

The disaster occurred on a highway that connects Italy to France, and northern cities like Milan to the beaches of Liguria.

The collapse also came on the eve of a major Italian summer holiday on Wednesday called Ferragosto, which marks the religious feast of the Assumption of Mary. It’s the high point of the Italian summer holiday season, when most cities and business are closed and Italians head to the beaches or the mountains. That means traffic could have been heavier than usual on the Genoa highway.

The Morandi Bridge is a main thoroughfare connecting the A10 highway that goes toward France and the A7 highway that continues north toward Milan. Inaugurated in 1967, it is just over a kilometer (.6 miles) long.

Borrelli said highway engineers were checking other parts of the bridge and that some areas were being evacuated as a precaution. He said they were still trying to figure out the reason for the collapse.

“You can see there are very big portions of the bridge (that collapsed). We need to remove all of the rubble to ascertain that all of the people have been reached,” he said, adding that more than 280 rescue workers and dogs units were on the scene.

“Operations are ongoing to extract people imprisoned below parts of the bridge and twisted metal,” he said.

Borrelli said there was no construction going on at the time on the bridge.

Firefighters told The Associated Press they were worried about gas lines exploding in the area from the collapse.

Transportation Minister Danilo Toninelli called the collapse “an enormous tragedy.”

ANSA said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will travel to Genoa later in the day.

“We are following minute by minute the situation,” Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said on Twitter.

French President Emmanuel Macron offered his country’s help in a phone call with Conte.

It was the second deadly disaster on an Italian highway in as many weeks.

On Aug. 6, another major accident occurred on an Italian highway near the northern city of Bologna. A tanker truck carrying a highly flammable gas exploded after rear-ending a stopped truck and getting hit from behind. The accident killed one person, injured dozens and blew apart a section of a raised eight-lane highway.

___

Simone Somekh contributed from Rome.

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