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Matosinhos marks 75 years since one of the greatest tragedies at sea. More than 150 fishermen died

This Thursday night marked the 75th anniversary of the most tragic accident at sea in Matosinhos. That night, 152 fishermen died. These are lives and families marked by a storm that surprised the seamen in 1947

This tragedy is still alive in the memory of the people of Matosinhos. Those who remember and those who heard over and over again this dramatic story, whose tragic contours were passed from parents to children. It is time to remember the drama, the pain, and the longing felt by the families of the 152 fishermen who died in the shipwreck of December 2, 1947.

There are historical events that, due to their tragic dimension, are inevitably marked in the memory of communities, even after several generations. The great shipwreck of 1947, considered at the time the greatest maritime disaster in living memory along the Portuguese coast, was one of those moments.

It was during the night of December 1st to 2nd that the tragic outcome of a stormy night that resulted in the death of more than a hundred and a half fishermen, became known in Matosinhos.

At that time, fishing had a very important economic and social importance in the area of Matosinhos, which was the first fishing center of the country, with more than 100 trawlers and where thousands of people worked directly.

However, the available means for rescue operations were reduced and could not prevent the sinking of these trawlers, nor the death of their occupants. In a town where fishing was one of the activities that employed the most people, the effect of this tragedy was overwhelming, since there was hardly a family in Matosinhos that was not affected by this tragedy.

This shipwreck was considered, at the time, the biggest maritime disaster in living memory on the Portuguese coast. On the afternoon of December 1, 1947, 103 trawlers went out to sea, heading for the sea off Figueira da Foz, where the sardine shoals were. Although they left in good weather, from late afternoon on the weather conditions changed rapidly and the boats were caught in a storm with winds of over 140 km/h.

The trawlers sailing farther from shore managed to save themselves, albeit with some difficulty, but those that came closer to shore, due to disorientation or because the engines were not strong enough or broke down, were thrown against the rocks.

That night (dawn of December 2), four trawlers that had left the Leixões bar sank off the coast of Gaia, between Cabedelo and Senhor da Pedra. The balance at the time indicated 152 fishermen died in this disaster.

This maritime disaster resulted in more than 70 widowed women and 152 orphaned children. In the following days, along the coast of Gaia, the bodies of the crew members of these trawlers were gradually washed ashore. This meant that this tragedy continued for several days, with funerals taking place daily for a long time. Many bodies never turned up and others only had parts of them left.


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