Italian Mysteries: The Ustica Massacre

Itavia Airlines Flight 870 was on a flight from Bologna to Palermo on June 27, 1980. The flight was carrying 81 passengers when something mysterious happened. The plane suddenly vanished from the radar screens just one hour into the flight. Debris from the plane was found a few hours later close to the island of Ustica in the Tyrrhenian Sea. There were no survivors from this plane crash.

There were no initial indications as to why the plane would crash, so exactly what had happened to Flight 870 was somewhat a mystery. Although there were several theories about what may have happened, one of the most popular was that there was a bomb planted onboard by terrorists. This theory was supported by Senator Giovanni Pellegrino who held a position within the Parliamentary Commission on Terrorism. A second theory was that a military missile intended for a Libyan plane could possibly have hit the DC-9.

More than a decade passed and still, it was not proven how the plane had crashed. However, during the 1990s, the theory that Flight 870 was hit by a missile became more prominent. Both NATO allies and the Italian government were accused of shooting down the plane accidentally. In 1997, radar records were released to the public. These showed that at the time of the plane’s disappearance, there were seven warplanes in the area.

Further information revealed that just three weeks after the crash, debris from a Libyan fighter jet was found close to Calabria, a southern region of Italy. This supported that theory that Flight 870 was shot down by a missile that was intended for the Libyan plane. However, to this day, it has never been proven exactly what happened to Flight 870mon that fateful day and the events may remain a mystery forever.

Main Image: Unsplash

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