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Italians reacted in shock online after it was revealed last week that an Italian tank had blown up a large chicken coop on a nearby farm after it misfired during a training exercise, reportedly killing at least 50 hens. The tragic incident occurred late-night last Wednesday near Vivaro—a small town in the northeast of Italy—when a tank ‘accidentally’ fired in the complete opposite direction of its target. Surprisingly, neither the owners of the farm nor the soldiers carrying out the exercise noticed what had happened until the following morning. Furthermore, photos of the damaged building show two holes, meaning the tank may have actually fired twice.
While the slaughter of the chickens is no doubt tragic, the fact that the tank misfired in the direction of the populated center of the town also means that the situation could have potentially been far worse. It also isn’t the first time something like this has happened. In 2011, bullets from a mounted machine gun struck multiple buildings including a school during a U.S. army training exercise near Grafenwöhr, a town in Southern Germany. The misfire has also only further angered a region already famous for its skepticism towards the Italian government, with some local parties even pushing to secede from the country altogether. One local politician complained to the il Friuli newspaper that the constant military exercises were driving away tourists from the region. Meanwhile, the chicken massacre quickly went viral on Italian social media and has even become become a meme, with the #battagliadicellina (“Battle of Cellina”, Cellina being the stream near the farm) trending on Twitter. Among the most common memes was a fake Wikipedia entry for the “battle” that listed Italy and “poultry” as the combatants and declared a “strategic victory” for the Italians. While online ridicule is certainly to be expected after an absurd event like this one, it looks like there will be serious consequences as well. Italian authorities have since impounded the four tanks that were on the training exercise, daily Italian newspaper La Reppublica reported, and started an investigation into who was responsible for the misfire.