Human history is full of incredible structures. From the pyramids built in ancient Egypt to the skyscrapers of modern times pushing the boundaries of technology, many structures are admired. However, there are structures that were built as an “engineering marvel” and turned into an “engineering disaster.” The Vajont Dam in Italy is one such structure.
The Vaiont Dam was built during World War II in present-day Italy. It was built as one of the most important examples, reflecting the process of rapid development after World War II. At the time, it was described as a real marvel of engineering. At the time of construction, it was considered the largest dam in the world. However, after serving the Italian people for a short time, he caused one of the greatest tsunamis in human history. On the other hand, he was the actor behind one of the biggest disasters in the history of the country. Let’s look at this interesting and tragic story that led to the death of 2,000 people in 1963.
The electric power company Società Adriatica di Elettricità started construction of the Vaiont Dam in 1957.
The site chosen for the construction of the dam, which is said to reflect Italy’s post-war development, was an area called Vajont Gorge. The dam was planned to be built in the Vaiont Valley in the region, and it was stated that the facility would meet all the electricity needs in eastern Italy. However, there was a very important aspect that was overlooked, or rather ignored for the construction area. The dam was built at the foot of Mount Tok, which the locals also call “Walking Mountain”.
The construction of the dam was completed in 1960.
During the construction process, the objections of various specialists and local residents were not taken into account. A common point of objection was the irregularity of the area where the dam was built. Directly above the dam rose the extensions of the Alps from the landslide strip. But the dam was so majestic that it drowned out the growing voices of protest …
With a length of 850 meters and a height of 262 meters, the dam became the highest dam in the world in 1960 when it was put into operation.
In addition, it has been built to be extremely durable. However, despite all its splendor and power, it was built without considering environmental factors. That is why the dam soon became the cause of one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the country.
In the days of the opening of the dam, events occurred that foreshadowed a great tragedy.
Small landslides on Mount Monte Tok increased the concern of the inhabitants of the region. However, the authorities insisted on not taking the necessary precautions. On the contrary, the filling level of the dam was much higher than it should have been. Journalists who said the dam could cause disaster in the future were accused of “trying to disrupt public order” and the Italian government covered up early signs of disaster.
The expected disaster occurred on October 9, 1963. Heavy rains in the area caused massive rocks and land to fall from Mount Toc into the reservoir.
Rock with a volume of 340 million cubic meters fell into the reservoir, resulting in a wave with a volume of 50 million cubic meters. More precisely, the height of the wave formed after the landslide was about 250 meters!
2000 people died in the megatsunami
Three different settlements near the dam were almost completely destroyed. So much so that only a few residents of this region managed to survive the Vajont Dam disaster, one of the largest disasters in the history of the country. In 2008, UNESCO listed the Vajont Dam disaster as one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in history.
The Vajont Dam, which was built as an engineering marvel but turned into an engineering disaster and resulted in the deaths of 2,000 people, still stands today.
However, after the disaster, he does not use it as a dam. For this reason, the structure, which at the time of its construction was known as the world’s tallest dam, today bears the title of “the world’s tallest unused dam”.
Some post-disaster images reveal the extent of the devastation experienced years ago.
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