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Victims of the 1944 Balvano Disaster

The Balvano disaster was the greatest European railway tragedy and one of the most serious railway disasters in history, with over 600 dead and no culprit. The list of the victims is based on Un treno, un'epoca: storia dell'8017, by Mario Restaino, (Melfi, Vultur Graphic Arts, 1994), pages 102-122. The author compiled a list of 432 identified victims. In later years Mario Restaino's seminal work was further updated with data coming from private contributors and civil records.

Alphabetical List of the Victims

Historical Background

The tragedy happened during the Second World War. In 1944 Italy was divided into two, to the south the Allies, advancing northwards, and to the north the occupying Germans and the fascist Republic of Salò.

Populations were devastated and poor, caught between the destructions caused by the retreating German armies and Allied bombings. Many inhabitants of the coastal area of Campania got on the freight trains directed southward to the Lucania countryside, where there was still some food, to prevent their families from starving.

On March 3, 1944 the freight train 8017, loaded with regular passengers and illegal travelers, entered the "Delle Armi" gallery near the Balvano-Ricigliano railway station, in the province of Potenza.

For a number of technical reasons and for a twist of fate, the 8017 tragically ended its journey in the gallery, where over 600 desperate people lost their lives, asphyxiated by the fumes of the locomotives.

Further Resources

The Balvano disaster
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Records in the Provinces of Basilicata
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