On the morning of January 15, 2018, the first of two massive explosions that caused the devastating fires in the power plant of the Verdi Opera House rocked the Italian capital, killing at least 44 people and damaging an estimated 500,000 homes.
The second explosion, a much smaller and more destructive one, killed three people and left thousands of homes and businesses without power for weeks, triggering widespread panic and prompting the resignation of the country’s president, Sergio Mattarella.
A total of 10,000 firefighters were deployed to the power station in the wake of the first explosion, which occurred shortly after midnight, and the second explosion occurred at 11.21am.
The fire at the power company’s Vittoria plant was also one of the worst ever recorded in the country, killing more than 30 people and causing the deaths of at least 40 more.
It was the third major explosion at the Verde plant, which has been shut since January 14, and it’s the first since the construction of the new power plant was stopped in February due to a fire.
At the time, the plant’s chief executive, Mario Scola, described the plant as a “black hole of destruction” in an emotional speech on January 19, shortly before he was sacked.
“I cannot imagine the pain and suffering of families and people living in these terrible and dangerous conditions.
I am overwhelmed by the grief and the despair and the anger and the fear,” he said.
On the night of January 18, Scola called the Verda factory an “industrial furnace”, adding that the blaze was “the worst and the worst” of its kind in Italy’s history.
He said it was the worst he had ever seen in the factory’s history, and that he had to evacuate the entire plant.
A day later, the new Verdi power plant’s operator, Fagor, announced that it would reopen on the same day, but only to operate until at least February 7, 2019, at the earliest.
In response to the second power plant explosion, the country declared a state of emergency on January 21, and police and soldiers were deployed at the plant, but no further casualties were reported.
With electricity in many parts of the capital cut off for a week and power stations shut, the Italian media was filled with reports of angry people protesting outside the plant and burning down homes and shops.
As the fires grew and more and more people became displaced from their homes and workplaces, people began to organise and take to the streets.
In an interview with Sky News on January 24, a visibly distraught Scola admitted that he was not prepared for the firestorm to come.
“[We] knew that the fire would spread, but that we had no control of it.
The government was not there.
The police were not there, and there was no firefighting and there were no rescuers in the air.
We did not know what would happen,” he told the network.”
We did not have enough time to prepare for the worst, and we did not expect this kind of thing.”
But Scola defended his decision to open the power plants.
Scola said the plant would operate as normal for a month, but the authorities refused to grant that extension. “
But the plant was in a bad state because of the negligence of Fagore.
Scola said the plant would operate as normal for a month, but the authorities refused to grant that extension.
In a separate interview with the BBC on January 27, he said the only option available to him at the time was to ask Fagores engineers to “change everything”.”
I said, ‘please change everything.
Please change the equipment, the management of the plant,’ because we were not prepared,” Scola said.”
They said, in effect, ‘well, it’ll be okay if you go back to normal.
You’re not going to have a fire’.
“The government, the police and the firefighting were not in a position to intervene.”‘
The power plant will not work’The second major power plant blaze also took place less than a month after the fire at Verdi.
Shortly after 1am on January 20, an explosion at an abandoned factory in Piedmont, near the power stations site, was the spark that ignited the massive blaze that left more than 50 people dead and destroyed a further 200 homes.
A few hours later, a second explosion was also reported in Piale, a town of about 400 people on the Mediterranean coast that was hit hard by the fire.
It’s estimated that at least 4,500 homes in the area were damaged by the explosion, and nearly 600 people were evacuated.
By the time the fire was contained, more than 20,000 people had been evacuated from the area.
The fires and the crisis that ensued have been referred to as the “nuclear winter”, a term