Sunday, January 22, 2017

Rigopiano, “The fear, the darkness, the hunger. We are saved by sucking snow” – The Republic

the PESCARA – Have the past 58 hours motionless, without eating, without drinking, in the dark, sucking on ice to survive, and trying not to go crazy. Have remained forever trapped in the rubble of the floor of the hotel Rigopiano that had collapsed on him, protected from the snow that had forced them under there, with nothing to do but hope, and the activity is declined variously, depending on the moment and of personal inclinations: there were those who prayed, those who encouraged others; and there were those who sought to interpret it as a sign of salvation and the upcoming the endless creaks of the night. “There they are”, are “us”, “we are saved” was th e cry every now and then someone, before discovering that, instead, those noises were only the groans of a tree, exhausted, ravaged by the violence of the avalanche, and oppressed by the weight of the fresh snow. They cried, they fought, they fought with all their strength – even children – and in the end, I made it. Not all, however. Only the lucky ones.


And now I am here, in this white room of the intensive care ward of the hospital of Pescara, and do not even know if to be happy or desperate. The doctors have prepared a budget, the most symmetric possible: six beds, three on this side, three on the other. The most shock of all Francesca Bronzes. It continues to ask of his boyfriend, Stephen Feniello. Has never been out from the rubble. They sedated. Next to her there are Giorgia Galassi, and Vincent Strong, the two boyfriends. Giorgia has of the mood swings impressive, alternates between moments of euphoria and authentic moments of despair. “It was a miracle – repeats – my life today will change”, but then bursts into tears thinking “to all those – many – who stayed in the Garden room of the hotel, under the avalanche”. Vincenzo is doing what they can. But they often have to intervene to the doctors. On the other hand, there are Giampa olo Matrons, who has undergone a surgery to the arm, and the two children, Samuel and Edward. Giampiero Wall, the cook of Windsor, his wife, Adriana, and her two sons, Gianfilippo and Ludovica, the family blessed by fate is three floors higher, in the field of paediatrics: “I Am a resurrected man”, says Giampiero. And he’s right.

Except for him, came out just at that moment to take the aspirin in the car, all the others are together in the great hall of the hotel, on Wednesday afternoon at 17.40 around the large fireplace. Adriana and Gianfilippo are on the couch and watching the fire. Ludovica, Samuel and Edward, other children are playing with the pool table. Giorgia and Vincent are together on the other couch and drink a tea not far from Giampaolo and his wife Valentina Cicioni. It seems that from there, in the days of good weather, you can even see the Adriatic sea, through the window glass. Then starts to tremble all over, a vibration as terrifying, growing, accompanied by a deep rumble. “Vibrava, everything is so strong – says Giorgia – all the time I was convinced that it was an earthquake, not a flood”. Instead, it is the mountain that collapsed. The impact of the hotel is devastating.

Everything becomes dark. Adriana manages to find her mobile phone, turns it on, there is no field but at least, for a few minutes before the battery runs out, does a little light. Around her there is very little space, but Gianfilippo is still there near. A few inches above his head, he has to stop the fall of an enormous beam of wood. “I embraced it immediately and I think we were hugged for the rest of the time, day and night,” he says. The first thought is to Ludovica. Adriana begins to cry out the name of his daughter. That immediately responds. It is not far away. Save. Around her and the other two children has created a survival cell, the second, largest. And fortunately, the voices filtering in a very sharp, so you can reassure the little in the most difficult moments. In the bag, finds a bottle of half a liter of water.

The darkness and the thirst are the dominant features in all the cells, including that of children, who often weep, and that of Francesca, a distance of a few centimeters. She is alone. “A hole was cramped, claustrophobic – he says – I couldn’t even stand up”. She also does light with a mobile phone, since when it holds. Then everything becomes black, for 58 hours. “But the worst thing – is the story in the hospital – it was the thirst: I bagnarmi lips with snow and ice, and dirty”.

In the fourth cell, are three. It is the largest. Hosts Giorgia, the boyfriend Vincenzo and Giampaolo. The beam has crushed his arm, but he is more worried because he could not find his Valentina. “The worst moment – says Giorgia – was on the second day there. We were locked in a box, without track of time. We did not hear noises from the outside. We continued to quench our thirst by sucking ice, but we did not eat, and the forces and hopes were beginning to come less. Vincenzo, however, there stirred up and in the end we had to resist it until I got the relief. Then we started to knock on the ceiling, and I didn’t. Them they called us. I immediately I yelled "I am Giorgia and I am alive". And it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever said.


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