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One Life as His Birthday Present

Autor: Carmen Plesa 17 Ian 2006 - 00:00
One Life as His Birthday Present

On his birthday, Vasile Andrii, a miner from Anina, saved the life of a co-worker who was caught by the explosion deep into the mine. Vasile was the first one to go down in the mine after the explosion hoping to find his pals alive.

Short after the explosion at the mine from Anina, a man went down to look for his pals who were stuck deep into the mine. It was his birthday. He turned 38. One night before the explosion, engineer Iepure told Vasile Andrii that he will not work at the abatis no. 686, where he used to work for a long time, but at the abatis no. 683. "I am not going to another abatis, mister engineer. I have my team and my friends there", Vasile told the engineer. However, the engineer didn’t step back.


So, on his birthday, on the 14th of January, Vasile Andrii was working on an abatis which was 50 meters deeper into the ground than the place where the explosion was to happen.

Early in the morning, at about a quarter to 5, a strong boom and a lot of dust put Vasile to the ground as he was unlocking the hooks from a wagon. "I thought an abatis came down on me", Vasile Andrii says. He took his mask and helmet and went out. He didn’t meet one single colleague on his way out. "Did you escape? There was an explosion at 686", were the words he heard from his mates when he got out of the mine. The only thing he was thinking of was that he should have been there with them.


"Give me a lamp! I’m going after my pals. Mister engineer, we might find someone still alive!"… He left with the engineer and another colleague. At first, they didn’t want to give them the cage, but they eventually went down, even though the director said they couldn’t go down in the mine. He met some of colleagues in the gallery and they left together towards the place where the explosion had happened. At first they found the two miners who suffered from severe burnings, but who are still alive. "One of them was conscious and he was saying only this: "Where am I, what’s wrong with me?", Vasile Andrii remembers.


HERO. Vasile Andrii, the rescuer of the injured, finds it hard to speak about the explosion.
Vasile is the only one that dared to go further towards the place of the explosion. "I asked for a methane-meter and I left. I felt like something pushed me from the back. I was thinking that if I were to die, my kids, who are old enough, would be able to work to earn their living. My pals have younger children and there is no one to feed them", the miner was encouraging himself. Then, he started to feel dizzy. The methane-meter was showing only 8. Anything else was black. At a certain time, he heard Piscot, his younger colleague, who was behind him: "I am coming with you, Vasile! I am not going to leave you!". He went down three times and got up three times thinking of his pals’ children. "When I got at the place where the explosion had happened, I was feeling so dizzy that I was only looking up. Then I saw the first one lying at one meter in front of me. It was Schneider. Afterwards, I saw other three. The artificer had his hand on the blaster. They were all mutilated. I felt so sorry that I started screaming and tearing my clothes. It was then when I stepped on the hand of this boy who is now in the hospital in Resita", Vasile remembers. He took all the coal out of his mouth and nose, got him up on his feet and started rubbing him, because he as stiff as a rock. The other miner took his fleece off and used it to enshroud the miner. They were afraid he had broken bones and they carried him easily for more than 1 kilometer. "I fell more than once. I got up and walked away. The only thing I was seeing in front of my eyes were little children crying", Vasile says. When he got into a place where he could breathe some clean air, the rescuers appeared. "Dizzy as I was, I started shouting at them and telling them they were interested only in money and they weren’t there when the people needed them. I felt like beating them with rocks", Vasile tells.


His wife waited him back home. She had knitted late in the night for a sweater she wanted to give him as his birthday gift. She had made a cake as well, but they ate that a few days later. "He was screaming and crying because his colleagues had died", the woman remembers. Vasile still has trouble sleeping at night. He is having nightmares. He dreams the bodies laying in front of him and the children crying on the mine’s galleries. "Schneider had never eaten the meal from the mine. He used to keep it for the children. I had food from home and I used to give him that too. He didn’t use to take it. To convince him, I used to say: "If you don’t take it, I’ll throw it away!". Then he used to reply: "Vasile, if this is how it is, give it to me, I’ll eat it", the miner remembers.


The Andriis came from somewhere around Bacau in 1990. Vasile Andrii worked for a couple of years in the Jiu Valley and after that he moved in Anina. They have an apartment in what the locals call the new Neighborhood - a bold project of the communist authorities, which turned into a nightmare place. Many of the blocks haven’t been finished. Some of them are about to fall, after the thieves took everything from them - from bricks to parquet and doors. Other blocks only have two or three apartments occupied. Until now, none of the investigators asked Vasile Andrii about the things he saw in the mine at the place of the explosion. The miner says that him and his colleagues have been forced to work more than once, even though the methane concentration was way above the allowed limit.

Translation by Sorin Balan
Citeşte mai multe despre:   place,   that,   they,   english,   vasile,   from,   were,   them,   only,   andrii,   vasile andrii,   explosion

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