Blackest day in history of pigeon racing
Now China is becoming number one in many aspects, also in pigeon sport.
It is said that 300,000 fanciers or even more race pigeons nowadays.
In the 50-ies there were about 260,000 fanciers in Belgium but that number is reduced to 40,000 in 2006.
Now in Germany and England are about 70,000 fanciers and then comes Poland. With 45,000 fanciers Poland is the 4th most important pigeon country in the world. 45,000 Fanciers is even more than in Belgium.
Pigeon sport is still just a hobby there and not influenced by business so far.
It is in the Katowice area where most Polish fanciers live and it is in Katowice where the Polish organise their annual National Pigeon Show that has become the 3rd most important in the world.
It is attended by about 15,000 fanciers minimum every year and this day is the high light of most Polish fanciers that nobody wants to miss.
At 7.00 a.m. when it is still dark the doors of the immense building are opened but already one hour before fanciers are queuing up to get in by temperatures of minus 15 Celsius. At about 11.00 a.m. the immense hall is fully filled.
January 28th 2006
The 2006 show started promising. Fanciers were streaming in by many thousands amongst which pretty many foreigners.
Dutch and Belgian firms that deal in food, medicine and other stuff alone were present with over 100 people amongst which many well known names.
Then at 17.13 p.m. it happened.
With an overwhelming deafening noise the immense roof collapsed falling on 100s of fanciers and 1000s of pigeons.
From one second to the other the scene had changed into hell with crying and dying people all around.
The stars in the bright sky witnessed the death of about 68 fanciers, most of them Polish but also several foreigners.
Those who were stuck under the rubbish had no chance to survive the night with such low temperatures.
About 150 were wounded and some saw the death real close. One of them was famous doctor H de Weerd who just managed to escape after fighting his way from under the rubbish for about one hour.
Also vet Raf Herbots was wounded but thanks God not real serious.
For people left and right of Henk de Weerd it was too late.
The catastrophe was caused by the weight of a thick layer of snow on top of the roof. The owner of the building had said it was removed but it was not.
When the tragedy happened about 1,000 fanciers were in the building.
Most of them leave about 2.30 p.m. since they have to drive far to get home.
God must have been with those people because if the building had collapsed some hours earlier at least 4,000 fanciers would have been killed the media said.
Nearly 70 pigeon fanciers being killed in just a few seconds, it is hard to understand.
Our thoughts and condolences go out to all those who are dear to these poor people who were at the wrong time at the wrong place.