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Fire destroys Rome's historic 'Iron Bridge;' walkway drops into Tiber
Blood-stained by the War, the Iron Bridge of Rome built by the papal State in the 19th century has a history. Ten women were executed on the bridge in 1944 by the German troops for asking for food during acute shortages caused by the War. Ironically, Sunday's fire started from a cooking gas canister being used in the shacks of the homeless on the side.

ROME, Oct 4: A major fire has destroyed part of the historic Iron Bridge in Rome. The bridge, also known as Industry Bridge, which spans the river Tiber, is said to have caught fire following a gas canister explosion on Saturday night. Parts of the 19th century bridge, 131 metres long, fell into the river.

Firefighters banned any navigation under it until the span can be reconstructed. Gas and electricity lines were out and traffic diverted as firefighters fought the blaze. They extinguished the fire by 4 am. No injuries or casualties were reported. The fire started from the shacks of the homeless people on the river banks.

Mayor Virginia Raggi lamented, "it as 'heartbreaking' to see such a well-known landmark succumb to fire." Mayoral election is due and the focus, ironically, is on infrastructure decay and poor public services.

State radio said the fire might have been started by an explosion of a cooking gas canister being used by one of the homeless people on the river banks near the bridge and spreading to the span.

The pedestrian walkway and the utility lines area broke off and fell into the Tiber. According to the Radio, another fire several years ago had also involved the shacks.

The bridge was built in 1863. It is called Iron Bridge because most other bridges are made of stone. It was planned for trains but later the plan was dropped.

Pope Pius IX had attended the inauguration of the bridge constructed by the papal State.

A plaque on one of the spans ends pays tribute to 10 women who were executed on it in 1944 by German SS troops. Their crime was they entered a bakery for food to feed their loved ones amidst a food crisis caused by the War.

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