I am sure you have all seen footage of the massive bridge collapse in Genoa, Italy just before noon today, local time. Before I write further, I ask you to remember victims, survivors and all first responders in your prayers!

Since early afternoon I have been riveted to Italian TV coverage of this tragedy. The number of victims goes up by the hour: as I write (6:15 pm) that number is 35 but first responders continue to dig in the rubble. I have also seen some miraculous rescues of survivors – scenes like you’d see in an action movie! (photos Italian media)

Those of us who live in Italy and have registered at the U.S. Embassy occasionally receive emails when embassy officials feel they have information about an event that might affect us. It could be what to do in the event of an earthquake or similar event, information about an impending demonstration, etc. As far as I know, this procedure is in place at U.S. embassies worldwide. Here is what we received today:

EVENT: At approximately 11:30 a.m., a segment of the Morandi Bridge on highway A10 in the port city of Genoa, Italy collapsed leading to multiple fatalities and injuries. Transportation is impacted on both the A10 and A7 highways to the airport, with possible train track closures. Local authorities have advised that citizens stay away from the area as rescue efforts are underway. The vicinity of the bridge location has been evacuated out of precaution.

Location: Morandi Bridge, highway A10 in Genoa, Italy

Action to Take:
Avoid the area surrounding the Morandi Bridge and highway A10 through Genoa and monitor local media for updates on transportation closures in the city of Genoa.

U.S. Citizens are advised to contact their family and friends to advise them of their wellbeing. To report U.S. citizens impacted by the bridge collapse, please contact the American Citizens Services Unit at tel: 39 02-290351, or send an email to:


Today is Ascension Thursday and a holiday in the Vatican, so no news bulletin, no papal meetings, no press conferences, etc. I am betting that a number of you reading this column remember well when the entire Church marked Ascension Thursday on (gasp!) Thursday! It was a holy day of obligation, including Mass.

Today we had a tweet from Pope Francis and piece of papal news from yesterday afternoon.

Pope Francis tweeted today: With the Ascension of Jesus, we participate in the fullness of life with God. Let us carry this in our hearts in our daily lives.

And this piece of news:


(Vatican Radio) On Saturday, May 27th, Pope Francis will travel to the northern Italian city of Genoa for a one-day apostolic visit.

One of the highlights of the day will undoubtedly be represented by his meeting with sick children and their families in the “Giannina Gaslini” Paediatric Hospital.

Awaiting Francis’ visit, many of the little patients have been busy preparing small gifts and messages, but meanwhile,  the Pope himself decided to surprise them ahead of time with a personal greeting.

Linking-up live via telephone to a parish radio in Genoa that broadcasts a Wednesday weekly program especially dedicated to the children’s hospital, Pope Francis told the little patients that it is with joy that he is preparing to be with them.

“Dear children of the Gaslini Hospital in Genoa, I greet you all with affection” he said.

The Pope said he is coming to be close to them, to listen to them, and to bring the caress of Jesus.

“He is always close to us especially when we are in difficulty and in need. He always gives us trust and hope” he said.

Pope Francis concluded his call with assurances that he is praying for the sick children and their families, and as he always does, he asked them to pray for him!