Solar eclipse seen from Udine/Italy in 2015

Death and destruction in the Night of horror
Remembering the Vajont dam disaster 

Erto e Casso, Longarone/Italy  (2013). –  A visit of the Piave river valley and its villages in northern Italy will cause every visitor a heavy heart when confronted with the history of this region.
October 9th, 1963 is remembered as the "Night of horror", in which an incredible landslide
caused the tragic Vajont dam disaster. Five villages – Longarone, Pirago, Rivalta, Villanova and Faè were destroyed and about 2000 people lost their lives in this horrible night. 350 families were exterminated, not one survivor! One of the tallest dams of the world and a pride of Italy,
the Vajont dam – 860 feet high (262 m) – became over night the main performer in one of the worst natural disasters Italy had ever seen before.
Solar eclipse seen from Udine/Italy in 2015
Walking through the Vajont valley villages still causes a heavy heart
The Vajont Dam was completed in the valley of the Vajont River in 1959. Because the designer of the project had ignored the geological instability of Mount Toc on the southern side of the basin and also the warning signs and negative appraisals during the early stages of the dam filling in the following years. He was even warned it could come to a disaster. And so it did: on October 9th in 1963 at 10:39 pm, a huge part of Mount Toc broke off and caused a massive landslide right into the dam. Forest, earth and rock, slipped in high speed – at up to 110 km per hour (68 mph) – in just 45 seconds into the reservoir, completely filling up the narrow reservoir in front of the dam and causing the water to overtop the dam in a 250-metre-high (820 ft) wave. It created a 200 meter (650 ft) tall wave which caused flooding and destruction to the Piave valley below, wiping out several villages and about 2000 lives.

Most of the survivors live today in the newly-built village Vajont. Those who insisted on returning to their mountain life in Erto e Casso were strongly discouraged but nevertheless they did go back, even though both villages stayed empty for three years after the disaster. Longarone and other villages in the Piave valley were also rebuilt again.

In remembrance of the Vajont tragedy the international bike race “Giro d'Italia” finished its 11th stage in Vajont this year to mark the 50th anniversary of the dam disaster. In preparation to visit this region I suggest to watch the Renzo Martinelli movie “Vajont – La diga del disonore” (2001), a movie about this terrible tragedy, or a clip of the " Disasters of the Century". The Piave river valley is located in the Province of Pordenone in the Italian region Friuli-Venezia Giulia, about 60 miles (100 km) west of Udine and about the same distance north of Venice.

The photos you see in the gallery were taken in Erto/Italy.

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