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Five killed following beam collapse

A picture of a building that was under construction but has collapsed with emergency vehicles
Photo: Comando Vigili del Fuoco Florence (Florence Fire Brigade Command)

Five construction workers have been confirmed dead following the collapse of a concrete beam and slabs at a supermarket construction site in Florence, Italy.

A group of workers were putting together prefabricated concrete structures for a new Esselunga supermarket on Friday (15 February) when, according to local press reports, a reinforced concrete (RC) beam toppled over a layer of slabs, which then collapsed, trapping several men. 

Tuscany region’s president, Eugenio Giani, said there were about 50 people on the site at the time of the accident, but only eight workers were reportedly involved in the collapse.  

Rescue teams pulled out three workers who were taken to local hospitals, where they were reported to be in serious condition but not suffering life-threatening injuries. 

Preliminary assessments indicate the accident happened due to a “structural collapse” of the concrete beam, which may have been caused by a misplacement or defect in its composition, officials quoted by Associated Press (AP) said. 

Florence prosecutors have ordered an investigation into the collapse, taking into consideration charges of negligence and multiple manslaughter, but no suspects have been named at this stage. 

Marina Caprotti, president of Esselunga, issued condolences to the worker’s families and promised to cooperate with the investigation. She said the construction work for the new store was outsourced to a third party.

In 2021, the last year for which there is official data from the European Union (EU) statistics agency Eurostat, Italy registered 601 workplace deaths. It was the second-highest figure in the EU after France that year. Across the 27-nation EU, 22.5% of all fatal workplace accidents took place within the construction sector.