Italy commemorates the 40th anniversary of the tragic death of Alfredino Rampi

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Italy is commemorating the 40th anniversary of the tragic death of six-year-old, Alfredino Rampi.

Alfredino Rampi, had fallen in and died in a well in Vermicino, Frascati, in June 1981 and the rescue attempt that was tramitted live on Italian TV had transfixed a nation.

The well, which was dug illegally, that is 28 cm wide and the tunnel is 80 metres deep. Rampi got stuck at a depth of about 36 metres.

Alfredino’s mother, Franca Rampi, during the rescue attempt.


Many for three days remained glued in front of the television to follow the rescue attempts of Rampi.

The non-stop television coverage attrachted up to 21 million viewers at peak times. The president of Italy, Sandro Pertini, visits the scene to offer comfort to Alfredino’s parents.

Alfredino Rampi was declared dead at 06.36 on Saturday 13 June. His death was announced on live on air, through tears, by television presenter Massimo Valentini.

Alfredino’s body would not be recovered until 11 July, a month after he fell.

The story changed forever the way to understand television: the drama of Alfredino was consumed live on TV under the eyes of Italians and the announcement of his death, after several attempts to save it, was given in tears by the host of Tg1 Massimo Valentini.

The attempted rescue was a major media event. It was the first time in Italy that a live outside broadcast had attracted millions of people to follow the events on TV.

Daniele Biondo, psychoanalyst, of the board of the ‘Centro Alfredo Rampi’, founded a few weeks after the tragedy, said that though that improvements had taken place. If on the prevention side there is still a lot to work on, on the rescue side” on the contrary, giant steps have been taken – underlines the psychoanalyst – and in Italy afterwards 40 years has changed a lot unfortunately and at the same time thanks to Vermicino. Everything that was missing at the time and that unfortunately, perhaps, also generated the failure of Alfredino’s rescue improved. We learned that there was a need for an organized rescue system, coordination between rescuers that was not there in Vermicino “.

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