Florence mourns dead in building site collapse

February 18, 2024, 11:11 am

<p>Minister announces new rules on safety and undeclared labor. </p>

Minister announces new rules on safety and undeclared labor. 

ROME – Florence paused on Saturday to mourn the victims of Friday's structural collapse at a supermarket building site that has left four construction workers confirmed dead and a fifth still missing feared dead and three more people injured.

Mayor Dario Nardella led a minute's silence at 3 p.m. in Piazza della Signoria together with Tuscany Governor Eugenio Giani, political and trade union representatives, and the archbishop of Florence, Cardinal Giuseppe Betori.

"It is a tragedy that has struck us deeply," said Nardella, thanking "all the volunteers, the fire brigade, civil protection, and the institutions involved" for their contribution to the rescue and recovery efforts.

The four people confirmed to have died after a concrete beam on the fourth floor of the Esselunga supermarket under construction in Via Mariti gave way causing the structure to collapse are Luigi Coclite, 60, from Italy, Mohamed Toukabri, 54, from Tunisia and Mohamed El Ferhane, 24, and Taoufik Haidar, 45, both from Morocco.

Their bodies have all been recovered.

On Saturday afternoon rescuers were still trying to find the one remaining missing worker, Bouzekri Rachimi aged 56 from Morocco.

The three injured workers are all Romanian and aged 37, 48 and 51. Their condition is not said to be life-threatening.

"Now, more than ever, we gather around the families of the workers who lost their lives on the Via Mariti construction site, and we commit ourselves to be more united and stronger than ever so that there will be no more victims in the workplace," he added.

Local buses and trams were also decked out in mourning on Saturday and the tramway system stopped for a minute to coincide with the silence at 3 p.m.

Earlier in the day shops closed for 15 minutes at midday and employees stood outside to pay their respects.

In a statement contractor Attività Edilizie Pavesi (AEP) told ANSA it is "overwhelmed with shock and grief".

"This is a time of silence and grief," the statement continued, adding that the company is "at the complete disposal of the authorities to ensure all the conditions are in place to shed light on this dramatic incident".

Prosecutors have opened a probe into multiple manslaughter, for now without suspects, and investigations are also being carried out into claims that two of the foreign victims were irregular workers.

Pope Francis also expressed his grief at the latest in a long spate of workplace deaths in Italy and renewed calls for labor safety to be stepped up.

In a telegram sent by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin to Betori, the pope expressed "feelings of closeness and condolences to the families of the victims, together with his deepest participation in the grief of the entire city".

"In this particularly dramatic moment, Pope Francis wishes to renew his appeal for safety in the workplace, hoping for a greater commitment on the part of those responsible for protecting workers," the telegram continued.

In the message, the pope also thanked the rescue workers and sent his apostolic blessing to all as a sign of spiritual closeness".

Meanwhile, Labor Minister Marina Calderone on Saturday announced a new package of measures on labor safety including new rules on undeclared labor and measures to protect safety in the contracting supply chain.

"There is to be no step backward on labor safety," said Calderone in a statement, adding that the government will "move forward with implementation of what has already been adopted since it took office".

"But more will be done," she added.

"This is the time to mourn the workers who have lost their lives, to be close to their families, and to establish the facts," she concluded.

And sources in the center-left opposition Democratic Party (PD) said party secretary Elly Schlein is ready to put aside political wrangling and work together with the government on the issue of workplace safety, as it has in the past on gender-based violence. (ANSA)