GENOA, Italy (RNN) - The Italian government reported at least 22 people were killed and another 16 people were injured when a raised highway bridge collapsed in Genoa on Tuesday. Rescuers continue to search for victims and describe the scene as "hell."
Giovanni Toti, the governor of the Liguria region, where Genoa is located, said the death toll is expected to rise, CNN reported.
Toti's office had earlier tweeted that the death toll had risen to 35. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte later confirmed that 22 people were killed in the bridge collapse, and that 16 people were injured.
Nine of the injured are in serious condition, Conte said.
Around the same time Conte said 22 people died, Toti's office said that 26 people were killed in the collapse.
Italy's civil protection agency said search and rescue efforts will continue through the night.
Genoa has declared two days of mourning for the victims.
Italian media outlet Ansa reported that four people were pulled from the rubble. A child is among those reported killed.
Other sections of the structure are in danger of collapse, so officials have evacuated nearby areas.
"Unfortunately, we have around 30 established deaths and some injured people in a serious condition," Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said to Ansa.
Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli described the collapse as "what seems like an immense tragedy."
All of the casualties appeared to come from vehicles that plunged from the bridge.
Italy's civil protection agency head Angelo Borrelli told Ansa that 30 to 35 cars and three trucks were on the structure when it collapsed.
Some of the vehicles wound up in the Polvecera River.
The bridge failure happened during a violent storm about noon local time. Some witnesses claim a lightning bolt hit the bridge, causing the collapse, Ansa reported.
Corrosion of the structure might also be to blame, engineering officials said.
Salvini said 200 firefighters and other rescue personnel are on the scene. Heavy machinery is moving large pieces of the bridge as rescuers use sniffer dogs to search for victims.
Italian media reported that the roadway collapsed over structures, which include shops and some residential units, and a railway.
Davide di Giorgio could be heard crying out for God on video at the scene, watching as the bridge collapsed. He told CNN he was videotaping the torrential rainfall when the bridge collapsed.
"As soon as I turned the camera to record the rain, we heard a loud noise and the bridge collapsed," he said. "It took me three seconds to realize what happened."
An image shows a green truck stopped just short of the missing section of bridge.
The suspension bridge, called the Moranti bridge, was built in the 1960s, the BBC reported. It is located over what La Repubblica described as a densely populated part of the city.