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Investigators: Disaster Could Have Been Avoided

July 17, 1986

ROME (AP) _ Almost one year after 269 people died in a dam collapse that leveled the Alpine resort town of Stava, investigators have concluded that the disaster could have been avoided.

The collapse of the earthern dam was not a natural disaster but the result of human negligence, according to the investigators, who gave the government a report this week summarizing their findings.

Premier Bettino Craxi ordered the investigation five days after the tragedy.

The investigators concluded that fundamental safety measures were lacking, there were no instruments to monitor the dike’s stability and that inspections had been inadequate.

The two-basin dam gave way during lunch hour on July 19, 1985, unleashing a flood of water, debris and mud into the valley below.

Within seconds, the torrent flattened three hotels and 20 houses under tons of mud and debris, killing 269 people, many of them tourists who had come to the valley for its hiking trails, pine trees and mountain air.

The Prealpi Mining Co. used the two basins, one higher on the hillside than the other, to rinse minerals.

Giulio and Aldo Rota, two brothers who own the mining company, were charged with multiple manslaughter and causing a disaster, but their trial date has been set.

In all, 29 people, mostly public officials in the area, were questioned in the investigation.

The investigators said concluded that inspectors of the dam had overlooked cracks. They also said the two pools were poorly designed and allowed the buildup of sediment that burdened dam walls.

According to the report, the dam was ″planned, built and directed in such a way that it neglected security measures a society expects from constructions that can endanger the existence of entire human communities.″

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