Column: Out of tragedy an inspiring display of the human spirit

Two commuters trains after their head-on collision in the southern region of Puglia
Two commuters trains after their head-on collision in the southern region of Puglia

Last week a tragic train crash happened in Puglia, Italy, near my beloved town of Barletta.

While it was mentioned on the news, it was overshadowed by the political situation here.

The train route was near one I have frequently used so I was familiar with the area and towns mentioned.

It is a tragedy on many levels. The head on collision of two trains on a single track in the midst of an olive grove saw many victims as both trains were packed with students, and people heading to Bari airport on a hot July morning.

Many lives were lost and many other passengers injured.

The repercussions of this will be enormous as Italians are the most sociable people on earth – they have families and friends galore close to their hearts - so many will at least have known someone involved.

It also touched me personally because I have lived there and know quite a few people in Puglia and the Pugliese are so warm and kind it seemed so unfair.

There were heartbreaking stories in the aftermath of lives shattered – a girl who had just become engaged and another who was supposed to marry this week, as two poignant examples.

There were also children involved and the elderly.

However, from the tragedy came some glimmer of hope for mankind.

On social media, the Pugliese tried to help each other in a really heartwarming way. Messages to urgently donate blood passed from northern Puglia down to the Salento region.

The city hospitals were full of people responding to this call and to offer their support in this time of need. People went out of their way to help each other.

As Barlettan Francesco Petruzelli said, “This is what southern Italians are really about. Solidarity. People have filled hospitals to donate blood and to help.

“Off duty doctors and nurses have rushed to help. This is how we really are in the south and this we must always be.”

It was really touching to see this response emanating throughout Puglia but it does not entirely surprise me as underneath the glitz and glamour of Italy, the people of this region are both loving and kind – a great example to us all in this often cynical world.

Hope.