The Vaiont disaster, 1963
At 22:39 hours of 9th October 1963, a vast landslide involving some 270 million cubic metres of rock and debris was set in motion from the slope of Mt. Toc and collapsed into the artificial reservoir of Vaiont (in Friuli Venezia Giulia, northern Italy).
The impact on the water surface generated a big wave which in a few seconds wiped out a large area on the opposite slope and downstream of the dam, destroying most of the village of Longarone (in Venetia) and parts of other villages in the River Piave valley.
1910 persons were killed in what to date is the worst industrial incident occurring in Italy.
Three fundamental human mistakes led to this catastrophe: the dam was constructed in a valley unsuitable from the geological viewpoint; the elevation of the reservoir was raised beyond the safety limit; on the evening of October 9th people living in areas at risk of inundation were not warned or evacuated.
The trials took place in three stages from 25th November 1968 to 25th March 1971 and finally concluded with the verdict of criminal responsibility, owing to the predictability of inundation and landslide, and multiple manslaughter.
The people of Vaiont donated “to the survivors of the Stava valley disaster, with whom we are one in the same tragedy”, the monument that is now outside the church in Stava. The monument symbolizes the wheel of life that begins to turn once again after it has been broken by the hand of humankind.