News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week June 20th to June 26th
SPANISH FORCES ON STRAITS ALERT
Spain takes action following the recent arrest of al Qa'ida suspects
SECURITY OPERATIONS IN THE STRAITS OF GIBRALTAR HAVE NOW BEEN BOLSTERED BY SPAIN'S MINISTRY OF DEFENCE IN AN EFFORT TO DETER ANY TERRORIST ACTIVITY IN THE AREA.
Spain has acted by deploying forces to counter any al Qa'ida operations in the area. According to informed sources, Spain has put its most modern jet fighters, the F-18s, plus naval P-3 Orion aircraft and high speed patrol boats on full stand-by.
The Government has stated its concern with regard to the suspected plans by the al Qa'ida movement to launch attacks on military targets of both NATO and the USA in the Straits of Gibraltar. That concern has increased after the announcement last week that the Moroccan authorities had arrested three Saudi members of al Qa'ida who had plans to undertake suicide attacks on British and USA naval vessels passing through the Straits. As Costa del Sol News revealed last week, the arrested were suspected of having planned to ram the ships in high speed launches packed with explosives. This attack could have been targeted at moving vessels that were passing through the Straits or at those stationed at Gibraltar's harbour.
In response to the threat, Spain has taken measures to ensure it has the capability to counter any al Qa'ida attack in the Straits of Gibraltar. As well as army, navy and air force units, the Guardia Civil have also been included in defence plans. The Guardia Civil are responsible for watching shipping movements through the Straits and off Spain's coastline using high-speed launches and helicopters.
The Spanish Air Force's F18s are said to be on permanent stand-by and could be in action within minutes. The P-3 Orion aircraft are also on full alert; they too could be operational immediately. The P-3 Orion is designed for anti-submarine warfare and would be able to stay in the air patrolling the Straits for long periods. Spanish navy warships are also at the ready and could join the air force in a short space of time.
FBI AGENTS ON THE SPOT
It is now known that FBI agents have been operating in Spain since May, trying to track down a leader of al Qa'ida, the Yemeni Ramzi Ben al Shibh. The FBI is working to trace his movements following his meeting with September 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta in the Catalan town of Reus last summer.
BRITONS WARNED OF TIMESHARE SCAMS
By David Eade
AS MANY BRITONS PREPARE FOR THEIR ANNUAL HOLIDAYS IN SPAIN WARNINGS ARE BEING ISSUED CONCERNING TIMESHARE FRAUDSTERS.
Two words of key advice "sign nothing!" are being used as a slogan in the campaign. Nonetheless tourists are still caught out by the many timeshare touts that patrol the Costa resorts looking for likely prey.
The "Sorted" column in the Daily Mirror highlighted the case of a Leeds couple who signed a £9,550 contract for a "lifetime of vacations" having paid a deposit of £1,950 whilst on their Costa del Sol holiday. Once home they decided to cancel the contract but the company is still demanding the balance.
Trade body, the Organisation for Timeshare in Europe, has began legal proceedings against a number of companies, which it believes is breaking consumer law. The OTE would be pleased to hear from anybody with complaints against timeshare sharks - their UK telephone number is 0207 291 0901.
The Daily Express has been amongst newspapers that have highlighted the crackdown by the Spanish authorities on timeshare fraud. They point out that the police have closed down numerous companies and have made over 50 arrests.
THE 'IMAGINARY BUYER' SCAM
Many newspapers warn of one timeshare scam still being operated on the Costas. As reported previously in Costa del Sol News, timeshare owners who want to sell are contacted by companies who say they have found a buyer. The owners are then asked to pay an up-front fee but surprise, surprise no buyer materializes and no refund is paid. Anybody who has been approached in this way should also contact the OTE.
MAJOR STORM CUTS TRAINS AND STARTS FIRES
By David Eade
A major storm, which formed over the Alborán sea, caused widespread chaos over areas of Málaga Province between 06.00 and 11.00 last Friday morning. It cut train services on the Fuengirola to Málaga line and also caused nine small fires.
Train services were halted after a low-tension electricity supply line was hit by lightning. No trains ran between 09.00 and 12.30 and the thousands of passengers who usually use the service had to travel by bus instead. The train company Renfe had to cancel a dozen trains.
The first small fire started in Benalmádena. It was quickly followed by others in Alhaurín el Grande, Istán, Alhaurín de la Torre, Álora, Casarabonela, Ardales and Antequerra. Two-hundred-and-thirty-two personnel, five helicopters and various groups from the civil defence, police and environmental departments quickly extinguished the blazes.
suffered three electricity supply cuts affecting the Albero, Las
Lagunas and El Coto areas. The mountain zone of Benalmádena
also was without power. This affected the 'telecabina' cable car,
which had to be taken out of service until the electric company
restored the supply.
NERJA DOG IDENTIFICATION TO BE OBLIGATORY
Town Hall insists on micro-chips for all pets
By David Jamieson
IN A FURTHER ATTEMPT TO CONTROL DOGS IN NERJA, THE TOWN HALL HAS ANNOUNCED THAT ALL ANIMALS WILL HAVE TO BE MICRO-CHIPPED FROM NEXT YEAR.
Public Health councillor, Rafael Rivas, intends to amend the Municipal Ordinance on the ownership of animals to make micro-chipping obligatory, so that a dog found in the street can easily be identified as either a stray, or simply lost. Animals which have wandered from home can be reunited with their owners be decoding the data on the chip, and cross referencing it with a national database.
Sr Rivas also hopes that the legislation, already in place in many other Spanish towns, will go some way to tackling the problem of dogs fouling the town's streets, one of the biggest complaints expressed to the authorities at a recent meeting with Community Association Presidents. Local police have been instructed to control dogs in public areas, and the councillor has also asked for public co-operation.
'CHIP YOUR DOG' CAMPAIGN
Sr Rivas indicated that the micro-chipping of a dog is quick and easy, costs around €30, and lasts for the rest of the animal's life. Owners of large dogs, over 20 kilos in weight, are already obliged to obtain a licence from the Town Hall by June 28, of which one of the conditions of issue is the presence of a micro-chip.
PILOT CRITICAL AFTER CRASH
Light aircraft comes down near Antequera
By Dave Jamieson
The pilot of an light aircraft was in a critical condition at the weekend, after he crash landed near Antequera. The accident took place on Saturday morning, when the craft came down in a field near an area used for flying practise. The pilot, from Cártama, was immediately transferred to in the University Clinic Hospital of Málaga by helicopter, suffering from fractures in both legs, injuries to the torso, and severe head wounds. The plane was carrying no passengers.
Witnesses said the aircraft began to lose height rapidly, and landed, upside down, in a field of poppies, close to the perimeter of the Venta de Los Pilotos aerodrome, two kilometres from the town. The cause of the incident is unknown, and is under investigation by the Guardia Civil and Civil Aviation authorities. Members of the Royal Aeroclub of Málaga confirmed that the pilot was very experienced and knowledgeable.
MÁLAGA 'COFRADÍAS' MUSEUM ON THE WAY
City guilds will chart their history
By David Jamieson
THE FOUNDATION STONE FOR ANOTHER NEW MUSEUM HAS BEEN LAID IN MÁLAGA.
Mayor Francisco de la Torre attended the ceremony last week at the former Hospital of San Julian, which is destined to open next June as a museum of the "Cofradías", the guilds of workers and other groups in the city, who are most visible during Holy Week when they process ornate floats depicting scenes from the final week of Jesus' life.
The Association of Cofradías is already based at the site, and in the first renovation phase, which will take six months, floors will be strengthened, disabled access improved, and rooms adapted for exhibitions and sociocultural activities. The second six-month phase will see the installation of equipment and furniture, and the entire project has a budget in excess of €360,000.
MÁLAGA MUSEUM CITY
Sr De la Torre said that the new museum would be a further tourist attraction in the city, sitting alongside the Alcazaba and the Museum of Fine Arts. He added that the city's Town Hall had encouraged the opening of 11 new museums in the city since 1995, with the Centre for Contemporary Art, the Wine Museum and the Flamenco Museum still to come.
JEWELLERS WARN OF DODGY DEALERS
By David Eade
The Association of Jewellers of the Costa del Sol has started an information campaign to alert the public to the unfair competition that they face. They have also complained about the exhibition and promotion of jewellery that does not comply with the norms of validity and whose vendors do not offer a guarantee to the client.
The association, which represents around 70 professional jewellers in Marbella, Fuengirola, Torremolinos and Málaga, has received numerous complaints concerning possible irregularities in the sale of jewellery and watches. Amongst the complaints is that these dealers sell dodgy goods, do not pay taxes or have fiscal licences.
The president of the association, Miguel Gómez, says that these dealers are "defrauding the tax authorities, the Town Hall and the consumers." The association claims that these dealers use hotels and leisure complexes to sell their wares. It warns that all precious metal items should have the correct manufacture and assay marks from an official laboratory.