Five workers dead following sewage plant tragedy in Palermo

  ROME -- Five workers have died, and one is in critical condition after a tragic work accident in Casteldaccia, Palermo according to recent reports. The incident occurred at the Amap sewage plant on the seafront.

   The victims were outsourced from the external contractor the Quadrifoglio group, which worked on behalf of Palermo’s municipal utility Amap and is responsible for water management in the city. Among the deceased are Epifanio Assazia, 71, co-owner of Quadrifoglio; Giuseppe Miraglia; Roberto Raneri, 50; Ignazio Giordano, 59; and Giuseppe La Barbera. Another labourer, who raised the alarm, sustained minor injuries.

  Girolamo Bentivoglio Fiandra, commander of the provincial fire brigade, confirmed that the deaths were caused by the inhalation of the toxic fumes of hydrogen sulphide within the sewers. The workers are said to have died one after the other by falling into a manhole; after the first labourer failed to remerge, the others climbed down to investigate. The seventh worker, who did not see his colleagues return, proceeded to raise the alarm. 

  “If all precautions had been taken, this would not have happened,” explained Bentivoglio, ruling out the possibility of a collapse within the sewer.

  An investigation led by the Termini Imerese public prosecutor’s office is now underway. The director of work and head of safety at Amap has been questioned by police. The surviving Amap worker, Giovanni D’Aleo, was also interviewed in a nearby hotel. 

  A 4-hour general strike will take place today, alongside an 8-hour strike from Palermo’s construction workers in solidarity with those killed in the tragedy. 

  “A business model based on contracting, subcontracting and precariousness is a model that kills. A system based on cutting costs and working time does not respect the rights and protections of workers, and must be changed immediately.” Said Maurizio Landini, Secretary-general of the Italian General Confederation of Labour, condemning the tragedy. “The massacres are daily and endless: we must stop it.” Landini has called for a “real negotiation with the Council Presidency to change the system.” 

  The tragedy has resulted in responses from political leaders. “I am shocked by the news of the workers involved in the tragic incident which occurred in Casteldaccia, in Palermo,” Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, wrote on X, “To the families of the victims, my deepest condolences, together with my sympathy for the worker who is currently in the intensive care unit at the Policlinico hospital in Palermo. Let light be shed on this tragedy.”

  Elly Schlein, secretary of the Democratic Party, spoke to journalists, adding, “It is a tragedy that we must put an end to. It is impossible in the Republic founded on work to continue dying from work and internships.”