GENOA, Italy — All day Wednesday outside the austere building that houses Genoa’s morgue, parents, children, friends and colleagues of possible victims of a collapsed bridge entered, dreading what they might find.
William Ben Lou Lou, 42, owner of a French moving company, arrived in the morning, a day after the city’s Morandi Bridge collapsed, leaving at least 39 people dead. His daughter, scrutinizing images on social media, spotted the wreckage of one of his trucks in the rubble. Two of his workers, both Romanians, had been in the truck, moving furniture from France to Italy, but he did not know if they had survived.
“I tried to call them,” he said, “but I couldn’t reach them.”
An hour later, Mr. Lou Lou had a partial answer. He identified the body of one worker, a man with a wife and three children. Then he went with the police to the hospital, in hopes that the other man was alive. “They say my other worker may be in intensive care,” he said.
The bridge collapse has traumatized Italy and exposed the decrepit state of the country’s infrastructure. The worrisome condition of the Morandi Bridge was well known, even as it remained a heavily trafficked thoroughfare through Genoa, and the question of why nothing was done has inflamed the national discussion.
But across Genoa, an ancient Ligurian port city tucked between the mountains and the Mediterranean, the shock of the calamity was particularly personal and terrifying.
Genoans not only mourned the victims but wondered what would happen to their own lives, now upended by a severed highway that connected one side of the city to the other.
Family members of missing travelers waited anxiously for word of loved ones. A man named Antonio Cicala told Sky News that he was seeking the whereabouts of his brother, sister-in-law and their daughter. “They haven’t responded to phone calls and never made it to their destination,” he said. “We went to the police, but they didn’t tell us anything. We’re just waiting. We want to know.”
By Wednesday afternoon, the Genoa government had released a partial list of Italian victims — a young couple heading for vacation, truck drivers from Genoa and Naples who had routinely crossed the bridge, a family of three returning from a holiday on the Ligurian coast and a family of four heading to a ferry to start their holiday.
“We just discovered that our young athlete perished today in the tragedy in Genoa,” Brike Bike, the amateur bicycle team of Manuele Bellasio, 16, wrote on its Facebook page. “All our team is together with the family for this unfair loss.”
As more becomes known about the bridge victims, they are likely to paint a somewhat international mosaic, reflecting Genoa’s location as an intersection for Europe.
Genoa had been a usual transit point for the two Romanian truck drivers who lived near Paris, Mr. Lou Lou said. Four French nationals are also among the victims, according to France’s Foreign Ministry. Family members of a 22-year-old Albanian national cried over his body at the morgue on Wednesday morning, all dressed in black. He had lived in the city and crossed the bridge for work, a cousin said.
Throughout Wednesday, workers and rescue crews continued searching the bridge debris for more victims or, perhaps, survivors. Witnesses recounted the horror of having watched the collapse.
Domenico Infantino, 69, a retired firefighter who lives near the bridge, saw cars and vans flung off the bridge, landing upside down on the railway tracks.
“I heard a thunder and then an explosion and the apartment shook,” he said. “I thought a nearby apartment had exploded, then I looked out of my kitchen window and couldn’t see the bridge anymore.”
In the Sampierdarena neighborhood, below what remained of the collapsed span, residents lined up at barricades erected by the police. Evacuated from their apartments after the collapse, they still could not return. Holding identity cards, they waited patiently for firefighters to retrieve their most important belongings — medicine, documents, pets.
“We’ll get to all of your homes before the sun sets,” one firefighter promised.
Amalia Salton, 66, was second in line. Her 16-year-old cat, Pepe, was stranded in her apartment, a few hundred yards from the wreckage.
“I’ve always lived here, since I was born,” she said while a firefighter took her details and walked away with her keys. “I was in middle school when they built the bridge, and we thought it was such a masterwork. Now it’s gone.”
Ms. Salton was staying with family members in another section of Genoa, and like her neighbors, had no idea of when she could re-enter her home, or reconstruct her daily life.
“We walk or drive under the bridge every day,” she said. “How will we go to the other part of town?”
Residents who once thought nothing of walking across the bridge now face basic challenges.
“It’s like having the Berlin Wall in your neighborhood,” Ms. Salton said. “Nothing will ever be the same.”
She did get a bit of good news: A firefighter, Elisa Romani, delivered Pepe into her arms.
One of her neighbors, Marisa Spiganti, also standing in line, blamed the authorities who she said had done too little over the years to ensure the bridge’s safety.
“I wish they would stop making messes like this and start doing things in a better way for the generation that comes after us,” she said. “We are tired of crying for the dead.”