Marcinelle tragedy, Tajani at the commemoration ceremony in Belgium

Since this morning, the ceremony for the 67th anniversary of the Marcinelle tragedy has been held at the Bois du Cazier, in which 262 miners died, 136 of whom were Italians. The commemoration began, as per tradition, in the square in front of the mine. In addition to the Belgian local and federal authorities, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, the Queen Emeritus of Belgium Paola Ruffo di Calabria, the Italian Ambassador to Belgium Federica Favi and the Italian Ambassador to NATO, Marco Peronaci, were present.

The memory of the victims: 262 tolls of the bell

The ceremony began with the blessing of the ‘Maria Mater Orphanarum’ bell, followed by the 262 tolls which recalled the victims of the 1956 tragedy. Their names, as every year, were read one by one. Immediately after, there was the overflight of two Tornados of the sixth wing of the Italian Air Force, to close the first part of the commemoration.

The tragedy of Marcinelle

On 8 August 1956, in addition to our compatriots, 95 Belgians, 8 Poles, 6 Greeks, 5 Germans, 5 French, 3 Hungarians, one English, one Dutch, one Russian and one Ukrainian lost their lives. The cause of the disaster was a huge fire that broke out inside the Bois du Cazier coal mine, where there are huge deposits of coal. Mineral wealth that, in the immediate post-war period, attracted migrants from all over the continent to Belgium, and in particular from Italy.

Meloni: “The light of the victims shines in our memory”

Today the memory of Prime Minister Meloni also arrived: the catastrophe “has forever marked national and European history”, he said. “Italy paid the highest price for that tragedy. Of the 262 miners who were victims of the disaster, in fact, 136 were our compatriots. With suffering and pain, they had decided to abandon their homeland to emigrate to Belgium. They worked hard, with humility and dedication, without guarantees, in terrible and now unimaginable conditions. They lost their lives in the darkness of the mine, but their light has not gone out and shines in the memory and gratitude bestowed upon them by the national community”, he added.