12 Apr 2021

RANDOM Times •

To survive, you must tell stories…(“,)

The images of the tragic accident of the Morandi Bridge in Maracaibo in 1964.

3 min read

All over the world radio and television speak ablut Genoa where yesterday, August 14, 2018, collapsed for a structural failure the Polcevera bridge, known as the “Morandi”, for the surname of the engineer who designed it. The engineer Riccardo Morandi (1902-1989) was the architect of many bridges between the 50s and the 70s, all made with pre-compressed reinforced concrete, but at the time the process of deterioration was not known in detail and the consequent decay of facilities. The first bridge he designed also suffered a tragic fate.
Morandi won the public notice for the design of the bridge over Lake Maracaibo in 1957, and the General Rafael Urdaneta Bridge (so named for a hero of the revolution) was inaugurated in 1962. Two years later, in 1964, an ESSO’s oil tanker crashed into stacks 30 and 31 of the bridge, dragging the three spans that insisted on the supports into the void.

The crash caused 7 deaths, but the huge bridge, 8.7 kilometers long and 85 meters high from the water level, was rebuilt the same. In addition to this accident, caused by a technical failure to the ship that brought it 600 meters from the point for the transit of cargo, in 1979 the base of the number 22 pile was destroyed by corrosion, and was rebuilt. Today, the Rafael Urdaneta bridge is crossed by millions of vehicles a year, and is a crucial road link to avoid circumventing the huge lake “de Maracaibo”, which partially divides the South American country into two parts:


In the case of the bridge over the lake de Maracaibo, the planning was not foreseen of an episode of failure of a large ship such as the “Esso Maracaibo”. This became unmanageable due to a technical failure, and ended at a great distance from the planned passage for ships, destroying the support stacks at the roadway and causing a large damage to the structure. Below, the carriageway collapsed on the ship and the part of the bridge still intact on the right:

Engineer Morandi designed, during his long career, no less than 27 bridges, of which only some made similarly to that of Genoa and that of Maracaibo. The hope is that the last recorded incident is this last in Genoa.

General Rafael Urdaneta Bridge today
Genova accident. Source Panorama.
Images from web//public demain