Current Affairs
The tragedy that struck and shattered Naxxar ten years ago

Yesterday ten years ago the normal calm and tranquility of Naxxar was shattered by an enormous explosion that claimed the lives of two victims and totally startled the area.

The site of the explosion is still overrun with weeds and the residents who were directly affected explained that despite the extent of the trauma they had experienced they have managed to rebuild their homes and their lives although their current situation is by no means a bed of roses.

The explosion was triggered off by a store of fireworks in a garage in Naxxar’s Triq Ħal Dgħejf, an explosion that was so powerful it shattered the whole village and demolished three houses.

Vickie Bugeja, one of the owners who lost her home in 2008, said the situation resembled war and the area was beyond recognition.

Tessie Bonavia who was one of the survivors said at that moment it felt like a state of war because she had never seen so many demolished buildings together.

Two persons lost their lives in the explosion. One was the garage owner 47-year-old Pawlu Camilleri and the other 35-year-old mother Sina Sammut, a mother of two children who at that moment returned home after doing the family shopping.

Rachel Bugeja, 15-years-old at the time, was one of the survivors in one of the shattered houses.

She said her survival had been an added ten years of life. Her mother Vickie said the only item not destroyed was a picture of Rachel.

Bugeja said that God had left them with their daughter and her picture.

Rachel said her survival was based on three miracles, one of these being that although her bedroom roof collapsed it had crashed onto a wardrobe which had only been placed in her bedroom 15 days earlier.

While trying to escape the debris she clambered down the shattered wall and made contact with a high tension wire wrapped around three broken bricks and although she had tried to skirt the bricks she made contact with the wire but suffered no ill effects. The third miracle was that when she left the debris, the owners’ van exploded and shattered the facade of the opposite building belonging to Charlie and Bernardette Bellia who fortunately were not in the house at the time.

Charlie Bellia said a great tragedy had occurred by through God’s Grace they were not at home at the time. Had they been inside at the time they would not have managed to escape because the house continued to burn for the next three days.

Bernardette said had she been there ten years ago she certainly would not be here today.

Today there is no evidence of the explosion although the site of the shattered garage has not been rebuilt and is today overgrown with weeds. However, those in the vicinity have remained mentally scarred with memories of the incident and of the experiences they never wanted to undergo.

Edward Bugeja said he remembers he had lost all his clothing and his children had lost all theirs. He said this was a lesson that one needs to struggle to live and the alternative to struggling is to capitulate.

Vickie Bugeja said that despite the tragedy, their daughter had survived and had remained to exemplify the beauty of being alive.

Over this ten-year period the Bellia and Bugeja families have managed to rebuild their homes and their lives although legal wrangles were still taking place as to whether their homes should remain hypoteched and this was preventing them from selling their homes or adding to the building by constructing an additional floor.

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