Fifty years ago: the Vaiont night

Valerio Spagna

Abstract


A geologist at the beginning of his career in the early 1960’s was a teacher of mineralogy and geology at the Agordo “Follador” Mining Institute in the Dolomites area. It was 50 years ago now when he observed the building of the Vaiont dam, and here he tells us of the night of October 9, 1963, when he rushed to the Piave Valley together with the first-aid teams, to confront the remains of Longarone. Did the dam collapse? Everybody thinks so, but the moon was not shining enough to allow an understanding of what had happened. It was only the first faint light of dawn that revealed that the dam was still standing: it was only edged by the water, from the shaping of the tremendous wave that was raised by the Mount Toc landslide when it entered the basin at 100 km/h. The dam edge contributed to the projection of the wave onto the opposite slopes, where once the water mass was released from the narrow Vaiont canyon, it raised solidly into the air, grazing the Casso village and precipitated as a massive block on the Longarone area. Everybody looked upwards with hate and despair, at the residual water streamlets that were overflowing along the concrete wall of the dam. Over the white bare esplanade people appeared extremely small. Pitiful people, gathered around the bodies wrenched from the devastated houses, denuded and buried in the mud.


Keywords


Environmental risk; Vaiont disaster; Landslide; Flood; First-aid teams

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References


DOI: https://doi.org/10.4401/ag-5519
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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X