Third victim Bois du Cazier identified thanks to DNA analysis


On August 8, 1956, 262 miners - half of whom were Italians - died in the fire at the Bois du Cazier mine in Marcinelle (Charleroi). In 2023, a multidisciplinary team of researchers formally identified two of the 14 victims who couldn't be identified at the time. Now, the team was able to confirm the identity of a third victim.

In 2019, Michele Cicora, the son of one of the unidentified miners, initiated the project. In 2021, the unidentified bodies were exhumed from the Marcinelle cemetery in order to link them to the miners using modern techniques.

The Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team of the Federal Police, forensic scientists, dentists, and anthropologists (also from our Institute) contributed to this research. Researchers from the National Institute of Criminalistics (NICC) extracted DNA from bone fragments and teeth, which was compared to the DNA of living family members. The degree of similarity was examined.

After two miners - Dante Di Quilio and Oscar Pellegrims - were identified in 2023, the NICC announced on March 20th 2024 that the DNA of a third miner could be linked to the victim's family. This miner is Rocco Ceccomancini, a 19-year-old man from the Italian village of Turrivalignani. He had arrived in Marcinelle only four months before the disaster.

This new identification, the result of collaboration with Swedish and Norwegian institutes, offers hope of being able to give names to eleven other victims of the mine disaster. Bois du Cazier continues its work and hopes to find other families. The more DNA sources there are, the greater the chance of linking a miner's remains to a family.