News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week 23th August - 29th August 2007
Two Britons among six killed on Marbella's roads
By David Eade
Road works are making San Pedro particularly dangerous
THIS IS PROVING to be a bad year on the province's roads and no where is it worse than in Marbella. Last Wednesday two women and a baby were killed in San Pedro, a third woman who was the mother of the baby died a day later. Then on Friday two Britons were killed in Puerto Banús.
Both of the tragedies happened on the A7 (old N-340) and each happened in the early morning. At 06.00 on Friday the British couple, a man aged 29 and a 21-year-old woman, tried to cross the four lanes of the dual carriageway just 300 metres from where there is a pedestrian underpass. They were struck by a car travelling in the direction of Málaga.
The pair had crossed from the Nueva Andalucía side of the road and may have been heading for the Tigermarket petrol station or the Hotel Riu. It is understood that the car was travelling within the permitted speed limits but struck the Britons with brutal force. Both died at the scene.
The Wednesday accident, described as the worst in the province so far this year, happened at 06.35 under the San Pedro arch when a car travelling towards Estepona suddenly swung across the road to change direction and hit a taxi travelling alongside it in the outside lane.
Two women, the child's grandmother and a family friend, and a baby in the car were killed at the scene. One of the women was thrown 30 metres by the impact. The baby survived the collision but died while rescuers were trying to cut him free. The mother, who was driving the car, was rushed to the Carlos Haya Hospital in Málaga but died the following day. Incredibly the taxi driver only suffered light injuries.The family group had driven from Madrid to spend several days holiday on the Costa del Sol at a friend's house.
Family mark seventh anniversary of daughter's disa
By Dave Jamieson
THE FAMILY of a Motril girl missing since 2000 have marked the seventh anniversary of her disappearance. María Teresa Fernández, who was 18, was last seen on August 18 that year when she was with some friends during the town's annual fair. Since then, nothing is known of her whereabouts. Her parents said they lived with hope as the anniversary approached after investigators told them that new lines of enquiry were underway. One concerns a letter received in July composed of newspaper cuttings about their daughter, while the other relates to a phone call received by the family in early May.
Although her parents keep their daughter's room as it was when she vanished, her mother, Teresa Martín, says she is aware of the realities of the situation and that they are "prepared for whatever news" comes to light about her. The only thing that has changed about María Teresa's bedroom, she added, was that "every morning she is not there."A website appealing for information which might help solve the mystery of her disappearance has been set up at www.galeon.com/terefdez.
Twenty three people arrested for starting fires
Latest detention took place in Istan
By David Eade
SO FAR THIS YEAR 23 people have been arrested and charged for starting forest fires in the province of Málaga. The latest detention came in Istán last week where a man has been held for starting a fire last Tuesday that destroyed 20 hectares of pine and scrub land.
The blaze started at 13.35 in the aptly named Barranco del Infierno (Hell's Ravine) in the Sierra Blanca, an area that has suffered from previous fires in the last few years. Flames took around four hours to bring under control and apart from numerous fire crews and Infoca fire teams attending the scene five specialist helicopters were also used.
It was thanks to the quick intervention of Infoca's investigation team that the cause of the blaze was rapidly identified and the alleged culprit detained. It is understood that the man had used machinery without taking any safety precautions and there were no fire breaks or extinguishers to hand.
Less premeditated fires
It has also been revealed that 70 per cent of the fires in Málaga province are caused by negligence and only 14 per cent were premeditated. The provincial delegate for the environment, Ignacio Trillo, has deplored the high number of accidental fires which he says could have been avoided. In many instances such as the Istán fire the cause was the misuse of machinery or the throwing of cigarette ends from cars.Sr Trillo welcomed the drop in the percentage of deliberately caused fires. The average in the last decade was 28 per cent but that has been halved. This he said was due to the efficiency of police investigations and the level of convictions which acted as a deterrent to pyromaniacs.
Five thousand evacuated from La Cañada
NEWS Staff Reporter
A FIRE IN THE KITCHEN of a restaurant at La Cañada shopping centre at 19.00 on Monday saw 5,000 shoppers and staff evacuated by the fire services and local police. The response of the emergency crews was a text book case with the centre evacuated within five minutes according to the local police. The fire broke out in the kitchen of Foster's Hollywood that is located in the second phase of the centre. The staff could not control the blaze but fire crews moved in speedily to put out the flames and to restrict the damage to the restaurant's kitchen zone.
Smoke from the fire did spread along the walkways of the centre for a few minutes but no damaged was caused. None of the 5,000 people in the centre was hurt but two fire fighters were treated for smoke inhalation and a kitchen worker suffered bad burns.
Earlier on Monday morning at 04.45 a fire broke out in a garage of an apartment block in El Duque in Sabinillas. The blaze destroyed two cars in the Don Amaro II building and damaged another 16. Around 70 residents of the block were evacuated as a precautionary measure while the fire brigade dealt with the blaze.
Please call back later
Telecommunications hit by influx of visitors and heat
By David Eade
BEFORE THE SUMMER, telecommunications companies warned that the mobile phone service could be hit, or even collapse, because of the lack of infrastructure on the Costa del Sol. As predicted, with the arrival of thousands of tourists the system is creaking under the strain though the feared doomsday scenario has yet to happen.
After complaints about the Vodafone service the Costa del Sol News contacted the company to report no cover in some areas of the coast and in Ronda at certain peak hours. A technician for the company said that coverage in all the areas mentioned were 60 per cent or less. He also said that all areas of Málaga and Cádiz province were overstretched during August. Nor was the problem just caused by the influx of tourists as the extreme heat could also affect the ability of calls to connect.
The problem is not confined to Vodafone. During peak morning periods we attempted to call both Spanish and UK numbers of people holidaying in Málaga province using Telefonica's Movistar network but the phone wouldn't connect although there was no problem at off-peak times.
The heavy use of the mobile system has also badly affected users of ADSL lines. While often calls or text messages can connect, internet users often only get access to the web at night time when other services are in less demand.
More antennas needed
The answer to the problem in future years is the installation of more mobile telephone antennas in the two provinces. However this creates friction between telecommunications companies and residents. While people demand a mobile phone and an efficient service they do not want an antenna erected near their homes or workplaces. There have been high profile court cases to have the installation of mobile telephone antennas stopped in central Málaga, Ronda, Vélez Málaga and other towns in the province. What this summer has shown is that you can't have one, a mobile, without the other, an antenna.
Fines of 15,000 euros for selling alcohol to minor
NEWS Staff Reporter
BENALMÁDENA is to crack down hard on those establishments that sell alcohol or tobacco to minors within the municipality. A bylaw has existed since 2004 that can impose a fine of up to 15,000 euros those that flout the law and now the town hall intends to impose it.
The drive is being spearheaded by the council's delegation of social welfare that is carrying out an information campaign on the on the bylaws that control the sale of alcohol, tobacco and drugs. It is working with the local security and citizen equality departments to get the message across.The councillor for social welfare, Francisco Salido, explained that the bylaw was the basis of an agreement signed by the town hall and the regional government in 2004, and it permits the municipal authority to hand out fines for breaking bylaws relating to alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
Torremolinos drivers urged to save fuel and cut co
Money-saving plan urges motorists to take their foot off the pedal
By Dave Jamieson
THE MUNICIPAL CONSUMERS OFFICE (OMIC) in Torremolinos has issued advice on saving fuel while at the same time reducing carbon dioxide emissions. If a car is kept and driven in optimum conditions, it says, with oil changes and servicing carried out at periods recommended by the manufacturer, up to 15 per cent less fuel is used. The OMIC says that by optimising consumption, drivers can save money and help to produce less contamination.
The 15 point plan on the correct use of vehicles was published last week. It starts with a recommendation to plan routes carefully, always looking for the shortest and least congested roads, adding that for short journeys, public transport is preferable. Avoid unnecessary loads, it says, pointing out that a luggage rack on the roof, even empty, can increase consumption by anything up to 35 per cent. Among other points raised are the use of air conditioning which increases fuel consumption by a fifth, while tyres inflated below the recommend pressure also uses more fuel.
Don't rev up
High speeds mean high petrol bills, says the advice, pointing out that a 20 per cent increase in speed will generate a 44 per cent increase in the amount of fuel used. It recommends starting the vehicle without using the accelerator and moving off as soon as possible, but switching the engine off if congestion means being stationary for more than two minutes. Finally, the OMIC reminds drivers that when choosing a new car, the fuel consumption should be taken into account.
Government asked to intervene in Legionnaire's dis
By David Eade
THE SPANISH ASSOCIATION for the defence of the patient has criticised the lack of government involvement in the Legionnaire's disease outbreak at the Club Municipal de Hielo in Benalmádena. Three people have now died, the third victim a Spaniard who passed away last week, and 18 in all have been affected. The president of the association, Carmen Flores, has written to health and consumer affairs minister, Bernat Soria, to ask for ministerial intervention. Sra Flores added that Spain's tourist image was being harmed and is demanding to know who gave the go ahead for the Benalmádena ice rink to open, who approved the decision and what security controls were put in place during its operation? She added there are many questions but no answers.
Former mayor Enrique Bolin has strongly rejected claims that he is to blame for the crisis and has explained that as a municipal facility the Club de Hielo did not need an opening licence. There have also been accusations that the rink continued operating after Legionnaire's was discovered.The National Microbiology Centre recently confirmed that the outbreak of the disease started in the rink's refrigeration tower. Although the current mayor of Benalmádena, Javier Carnero, promised that the rink would be inspected this week to see whether it meets the regional government's requirements for re-opening, that inspection has now been delayed.
Arts centre contract out to tender again
Town hall rejects first round of applicants
By Dave Jamieson
MÁLAGA'S TOWN COUNCIL is to issue a second invitation for tenders from companies interested in managing the city's Contemporary Arts Centre (CAC). The move follows the town hall's rejection of the only remaining application last Thursday. Gestión Cultural y Comunicación S. L. has managed the CAC since it opened in February 2003, and was left as the sole contender for the new, ten-year management contract after the only other applicant, the Unicaja Foundation, was rejected. In a knee-jerk reaction the Foundation immediately announced a severe reduction in their involvement in Málaga's cultural life (CDSN last week). Both applications were rejected for failing to meet obligations documented in the terms and conditions. Málaga's councillor for culture, Miguel Briones, chaired the five-person committee which studied and rejected the two applicants. He said that the decisions had been taken following discussions with municipal technicians and made it clear that there were no political implications. The applicants in the second round, he added, would be subject to exactly the same terms and conditions as in the first round.
Opposition calls for dismissal
Opposition socialist councillors at Málaga town hall have been highly critical of the way in which the matter has been handled, calling for Sr Briones dismissal. The CAC aims to promote and disseminate 20th and 21st century art and already has exhibitions arranged for the coming winter season. The ten-year contract presently on offer runs from 2008 to 2018 and is worth 28.66 million euros. The present management contract expires on December 31.
From Mali to the Mulhacén in sandals
Mystery man found wandering Spain's highest peak
By Dave Jamieson
POLICE IN GRANADA last week detained a 27-year-old African man found wandering on the slopes of Spain's highest mountain. He was first spotted around midday on Tuesday of last week by a group of walkers who reported finding him walking around the 3,392-metre high peak Veleta in Sierra Nevada. They said he was wearing a shirt and teeshirt, jeans and sandals, had no food or water with him, and that they had taken him to the shelter known as Cariguela, situated a little below Veleta's peak at 3,200 metres above sea level. Here he was fed but he asked, through hand signals, that the authorities should not be informed.
He then headed off towards the Mulhacén, which at 3,479 metres is the highest peak on the Iberian peninsula. Even in mid-August, snow lies on the peak and temperatures at higher altitudes can be bitterly cold.
The following day he was found again, this time by a forest ranger who took him to the nearest town, Capiliera, and called the police. He told officers that his name is Tony Brascons and that he is originally from Mali, but he did not speak Spanish or French. He did not have any papers in his possession and National Police from Motril released him while they try to establish whether or not he entered Spain illegally.
Traffic chaos on the roads to Tarifa
By David Eade
MOTORISTS travelling along the A7-N-340 between Algeciras and Tarifa are warned of heavy delays over the peak and weekend periods. This is being caused by the large number of port users and holidaymakers, the latter travelling to use Tarifa's popular beaches. Travellers are advised to avoid this road during rush hour times as delays of several hours have been reported. These delays have also badly affected buses including the long distance services. The mayor of Tarifa, Miguel Manella, has condemned the delays as unsustainable and has stated that the chaos is affecting workers ability to travel to their employment in the Campo de Gibraltar area.
Russian vessel arrives to refloat stricken ship
Authorities say there has been no oil spillage so far
By David Eade
THE SPECIALIST RUSSIAN SALVAGE TUG, 'Fotiy Krylov', arrived in Gibraltar on Sunday to start the process of refloating the grounded cargo ship 'New Flame' that lies off Punta Europa. The Panamanian vessel ran aground a week earlier (CDSN, August 16-22) after colliding with the tanker 'Tom Gertrud'. The 'Fotiy Krylov' has arrived on the scene four days late but is to start the process of removing the 750 tonnes of fuel oil from the vessel immediately. The Gibraltar government has stated that the position of the cargo ship has not changed since its grounding and the situation was "stable" and "secure". There has also been no oil spillage into the sea and the Gibraltar authorities have placed a floating boom around the vessel to contain any leakage. There is also a team on standby to tackle any oil pollution. Gibraltar's acting chief minister who is also the minister responsible for shipping, Joe Holliday, has stated that all security measures to protect the environment have been taken.
Ecologists welcome prompt action
The spokesperson for the environmental group, Verdemar - Ecologistas en Acción, Raquel Ñeco, has welcomed the arrival of the Russian salvage vessel and stated that she hopes that the extraction programme is started rapidly. She added that there was always an environmental risk with 750 tonnes of fuel oil onboard.She pointed out that there was no timetable for the extraction of the oil as that would depend on the weather. Ñeco believes that these accidents are caused through a lack of control by the Gibraltarian and Spanish shipping authorities. She said that the Straits was one of the busiest shipping zones in the world and while only small catastrophes had occurred to date it was too much to expect that a major disaster would not happen unless control was greatly improved.
Plague ravages northern Spain's farming heartland
Millions of voles run riot in Castilla Leon
By Dave Jamieson
WHILE SOUTHERN COASTS continue to be plagued by infestations of jellyfish, farmers in the north have a plague of a different kind to cope with. The vole, a small rodent sometimes known as a meadow mouse or field mouse, is causing a major headache for farmers in Castilla-Leon. The creatures have already munched their way through 40 per cent of the grain crops in the country's agricultural heartland and have now turned to potatoes, grapes and beets to satisfy their voracious appetites.
It all began almost a year ago and has now reached crisis proportions. Experts reckon there may be as many as 700 million of the pests in the region but nobody seems to know what to do to eradicate them. About 400,000 hectares of farmland are said to be affected while reports from Valladolid say voles have even been spotted in private gardens in the city. The local government has burned already-harvested fields, a measure only permitted by the EU in exceptional circumstances, while rollers have been dragged over farmland in attempts to crush the animals. However, they continue to thrive. The latest idea is to zap them with loud noise, herd the disoriented victims together, and destroy them with fire or water. Once news of the problem went worldwide, suggestions received from internet correspondents included piping vehicle exhaust fumes into the ground and even electrifying them. The region's agriculture minister, Silvia Clemente, said, "There has never been a plague like the one we have now . There are no measures that have been proven to work against a plague of these characteristics."
The common vole (Microtus arvalis) is native to northern Spain and Jose Carlos Pinero, a vet with the region's health department, blames its population explosion on the weather: a mild winter without the freezing conditions which normally kill many of them off, followed by a wet spring which provided plenty of vegetation for them to eat. With these favourable conditions, experts say a female vole can give birth to a litter of at least four every 30 days. In addition, when officials first used chemicals to try and kill them off last September, ecologists protested, the practice was abandoned, and the population exploded.About 20 people have been treated for an infectious disease which comes from contact with the rodents, and, on top of the lost crops and millions of euros of damage caused, voles have a characteristic and unpleasant smell which has become overpowering because of their sheer numbers.
Cadiz's Carranza barbecues go ahead
Political bickering causes drop in attendance numbers
By David Eade
AS REAL BETIS were winning the annual Carranza Trophy the beach barbeques that coincide with the event were also in full play. There has been a long debate as to whether the parties should be held this year amidst accusations that they damage the beaches for weeks to come. Go ahead they did but it is estimated that only about half the number of people took part compared with last year. Not surprisingly the beaches were largely occupied by young people who seemed intent on having 'botellónes' or drinking parties. Observers said the crowds were largely under 25-year-olds out for a celebration that over the years has become the most famous in Cádiz.
Politics that have surrounded the event were also in evidence. On Thursday morning both the town hall and the coastal authority took samples of the sands. Both used different companies to carry out the tests and these will now be analysed with samples taken after the barbeques and in the days to come to see what pollution and bacteria have been deposited there.
Residents want to move the party away from the beach
There have been moves among Cádiz residents to maintain the barbeque tradition but to move it away from the beach areas. Over the next 12 months before the 2008 Carranza Trophy this debate will be intensified not only within Cádiz city itself but also between the town hall and the coastal authority.