Andrea, Luciano, Ahmed, Sergio and Mauro: the sea as work, the end at the bottom of the Adriatic

Repubblica dedicates a fixed space to deaths at work. A Spoon River that tells the lives of each victim, preventing them from turning into trivial statistical data. Invisible and forgotten lives. In our country, an average of three workers a day do not return home and “Dying from work” is intended as an uninterrupted reminder to institutions and politics until this “crime of peace” ends.

“When I launched my first paper ships in the days of my literary childhood, I was aiming for an equally restless and dangerous and changing element of the sea, indeed vaster: the relentless ocean of human life”. Like Joseph Conrad, we too humbly try to tell the life canceled before by the sinking of the tugboat ‘Franco P.’ , then from the inevitable technical and judicial narrative that followed the tragedy. Five lives broken by work, because for them the sea was first of all the sustenance of entire families. The ‘Franco P.’ it sank in the Adriatic, 50 miles across Bari, four days after leaving the port of Ancona for Durres, Albania, to tow a pontoon. Sea force 5 and gusts of wind spelled the end for the ship and for five sailors. The only survivor of the crew, the commander Giuseppe Petralia will spend the rest of his life with the trauma of the shipwreck in his eyes and heart.

Andrea Massimo Loi, embarked on the ‘Franco P.’ as marò, he was originally from Tortolì in Sardinia from where he left thirty years ago with the sea in his blood: many ports along the 58 years of his journey (in Germany, Norway, Bari, Ancona which has become his city) and many jobs (cook, fisherman, bricklayer). “Nice, generous and stubborn”, says those who knew Andrea well. After the outbreak of the war he hadn’t thought twice about hosting relatives and the first daughter of Larissa, his wife, born in Ukraine.

Andrea Massimo Loi

Andrea Massimo Loi

Luciano Bigoni, 64, was also an adopted citizen of Ancona. Married to Susanna and father of two daughters, he was born in Civitanova and until a few years ago he was a fisherman. Having sold the fishing boat (the ‘Angela Luciana’), he understood that living with a pension alone was not easy so he became an engineer, making use of many years of sea. “Luciano was an exquisite person, a splendid father and grandfather”, says his long-time friend Giani, also a long-time fisherman.

Luciano Bigoni

Luciano Bigoni

Mediterranean, common homeland of many peoples distant in religions and geopolitics, but linked by the sea and culture. On board the ‘Franco P,’ was Ahmed Jelali aka Salem as deputy commander. Born in Tunisia 63 years ago, he had been in Italy for almost fifty years spent almost all in Giulianova where he had married Daniela, the daughter of Dalmina, the old woman who sold fish at the entrance to the Julian port. In addition to his wife, he leaves three children: Nuri, Saimon and Giada.

Ahmed Jelali

Ahmed Jelali

Then there were the two Apulian seafarers: the boatswain Sergio Bufo, 60 years old from Molfetta, and the fifty-nine year old chief engineer Mauro Mongelli from Terlizzi. The sea has not returned their bodies and the void is even deeper. Mauro, a very experienced sailor who graduated from the ‘Caracciolo’ nautical institute in Bari, should have returned home after a few weeks for the wedding of his only daughter. Sergio was the father of four children: one of them had worked on board the ‘Franco P.’ until some time before the tragedy and, had he not chosen another engagement, he would probably have been aboard the tug that night as well.

Sergio Bufo

Sergio Bufo

Mauro Mongelli

Mauro Mongelli

On social media, the most poignant message for the five victims came from a world apparently foreign to the sea, but if you look closely in rugby there is the same dignity, the same generosity, the same loyalty of life in the waves. Thus what written by the Anconitana Rugby Union and by Fano Rugby seems to be the prayer of the same religion: “To you, seafarers, who with courage and honesty endure the rough caresses of the ocean, who face the stormy winds, who rely on the sky, be it a star or a satellite or a magnetic needle, who mount at night in lookout peering into the impenetrable darkness of the world, which you go adrift, sometimes without escape. To you, sailors, who one night you go to bed with death in the bed of the sea, to you who wonder if that place you are going doesn’t swallow you up and you never come back. To you, sailors, who stare in the face at the fear of that dark sea, which moves even at night and never stands still.“.

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