The Disaster of Molare

CHAPTER 4. The Huge Wave

At 13.15 p.m. both the secondary dam and Sella Zerbino collapsed under the violent thrust of a water and mud mass of about 20 / 25 million cubic meters.

The huge wave which was produced, had to run shortly before moving down the first victims: a hostel-farm was situated in front of Sella Zerbino. The owners, realizing the imminent danger, ran away up to the mountain. In vain, two travellers just arrived, insisted upon hospitality. The farm was first crushed by the air displacement and then fully destroyed by a dreadful wave (“...the pigeons had no time to fly off the roof tiles..."). But the first great victim of the wave was the central power station, placed on the river bottom, 2 km . about towards the Main Dam. Only the heavy iron turbines, fastened firmly upon the rocks, were not swept away. The personnel had already left the premises. There was only a victim: the father of the keeper of the dam just downstream the power station. Being anxious about safety of his son and his family he ran to aid: they had fortunately escaped (portable phones didn't exist at the time...) Mr. Quintavalle's body was found 40 years later, during a trench work, 1 km far downstream.

The houses of Molare are placed higher than the Orba bed. The inhabitants (among them my grand-father aged of 14) were watching the unexpected flood of the Orba torrent. You can only imagine their expression when they saw the “Molare bridge” (“Turchino” trunk road. Nr. 456 ) 18 mt. height, which was literally engulfed by a gigantic wave, as in an equal manner were the mill and many crossing places. Just downstream the bridge, there was a place named Località Ghiaie, some meters higher than the river bed. Houses were completely destroyed and some inhabitants lost their lives. The railway bridge, 20 mt. height and 150 mt. long about, vanished. The eye-witnesses told that the iron structure was pulled off from the pillars, and “like a tree trunk” it moved along on water by turning over and over for many hundreds of meters. It was never found and the train Genoa-Acqui Terme broke its meeting with Destiny, since 8 minutes in advance. There were 11 victims in Molare but things were at their worst downstream.

Between Molare and Ovada, many places such as Ghiaie, Rebba, Carlovini, Monteggio, Geirino were either destroyed by water or severely damaged . More than 30 persons died in these areas. Ovada, as Molare, is positioned on a terrace , 20 meters higher than the river bed. On the opposite bank of the Orba torrent, a thickly populated quarter, named Borgo of Ovada was established. This quarter, where “.....nothing was missing but the chemist's”... was near the river bank and joined to the town by a bridge, called Bridge of the Borgo.
Since early in the morning, many people left their houses, afraid of the unexpected river flood. But most inhabitants didn't escape: the Borgo was actually “vaccinated” against the torrent freaks (they called back to mind the memory of the river flood in 1915). The inhabitants of Ovada, who on the protected opposite river bank, saw the great wave sweeping away everything, are telling, still today filled with consternation, those sad events of the Ovada life: “... houses unfolded as the sheets of a book...”. On the whole, the victims of the Borgo of Ovada were 60 about. The bridge also was completely destroyed and the wave reached the confluence with the Stura torrent, in flood too.

The impact was really terrible: the Stura flood rebounded back over the wall of water of the Orba river, originating a flowing back along the torrent for 2 km about, and swept away the Belforte bridge, (from down to up and not viceversa). The fury of the flood damaged badly all the low lands of the Orba Valley : four persons died in Capriata d'Orba ( 10 km far down from Ovada): two young brothers with their father and the Podestà of the village. The foolish running of the wave reached its end when meeting the Bormida river. On August 13 th , 1935 at 14.30 p.m. , the rain had stopped falling on Molare and Ovada. On the whole, the victims were more than 100.

CHAPTER 5. The Disaster of Molare

Note a margine:

La traduzione del corpo di testo è stata curata dalla Sig.ra Vanda Martini che ringrazio moltissomo. Qualsiasi errore di traduzione presente nella pagina - es. didascalie immagini, barra dei comandi ecc - è attribuibile alla mia scarsa conoscenza dell'inglese

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Sito curato da Vittorio Bonaria oppure