Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 32 n° 126

Marcinelle can not forget

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 7 agosto 2011

It was on the 8 August 1856 and one of the greatest tragedies of the history struck the town of Marcinelle, few miles from Charleroi. Totally 262 miners were killed and 136 were Italians. Only six miners survived the fire. Thanks to the post-war bilateral agreement there was a strong Italians’ emigration in Belgium and during the years 50 and 60 200000 people arrived in Belgium from Italy. Marcinelle mines mined coal and the mines of Charleroi (alternative name) was inaugurated by King William I when Belgium was still part of the Netherlands. The year before the tragedy a coal production of 170 000 tonnes per year was registered. The death of the miners was caused by a lack of elementary safety rules and the tragedy became the symbol of the sacrifice of many Italians forced to emigrate in search of a better life. The yearly recurrence was proclaimed in 2001 “National Day of the sacrifice of Italian workers in the world”, an occasion o celebrate Italians dead working abroad. – “Nous sommes une fifties. Fuyons Nous les vers les fumées quatres Paumès …” It was written with chalk on a wooden board by one of the victims while he was trying to escape. A fire at one of the shafts of the coal mine of the Bois du Cazier, caused the deaths of 262 people from twelve different nationalities, mainly Italian, 136 victims, then Belgian, 95, was a chilling tragedy, the miners were left with no way escape, suffocated by gas fumes. Salvage operations were desperate until August 23 when one of the rescuers spoke in Italian: “All dead!” Only after the terrible tragedy of Marcinellewas finally introduced in the mines of the Belgian gas mask. The tragedy of Marcinelle mine, after that of the Monongah mine in West Virginia, is the largest in the history of Italian emigration. A museum “Le Bois du cazier” is dedicated at the tragedy and the Italian foreign minister (actually Franco Frattini) reminds the accident every year with a message to the population. (from Italoeuropeo di Londra)

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