Grandad crushed to death by thousands of wheels of cheese as rescuers take 12 hours to find him

8 August 2023, 12:17

Giacomo Chiapparini was killed by cheese on Sunday
Giacomo Chiapparini was killed by cheese on Sunday. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

A pensioner has been crushed to death by thousands of wheels of cheese that fell on top of him.

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Giacomo Chiapparini, 74, was killed when a shelf broke in his warehouse in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, sending a torrent of Grana Padano blocks tumbling onto him.

The wheels of cheese, which weigh about 40kg each, fell into each other, creating a domino effect that proved catastrophic for Mr Chiapparini.

Rescuers took about 12 hours to find him, removing each wheel of cheese by hand.

The warehouse, which is in the small town of Romano di Lombardia near Bergamo, contained about 25,000 blocks of Grana Padano, a hard cheese similar in texture to Parmesan.

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Giacomo Chiapparini with his family
Giacomo Chiapparini with his family. Picture: Unknown

Mr Chiapparini and his son Tiziano went to the warehouse to check the cheese after a machine that cleans them sent out an alarm.

Borto Ghislotti told NBC: "Tiziano told me he heard a massive noise, he turned around and saw his father buried under thousands of cheese wheels. He knows that if he got out seconds later, he would be dead too.”

Firefighters soon arrived but were unable to help Mr Chiapparini, who was a grandfather.

"When we got there, the whole warehouse was full of cheese wheels on top of one another," said Daniele Retto, a spokesperson for the local fire brigade.

"We had to call the unit that specialises in the search and rescue of people under the rubble, especially after an earthquake. They spent hours moving the wheels by hand, one by one, and found his body only in the morning."

Grana Padano is a hard cheese
Grana Padano is a hard cheese. Picture: Alamy

Mr Ghislotti said he could not understand how the freak accident took place.

He said: "Something like this has never happened, even during the earthquake in Emilia Romagna in 2012. Thousands of wheels fell back then due to the tremors but nobody got killed."

Investigators are now looking into Mr Chiapparini's death to get a better idea of why the shelf collapsed.