News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week August 29th to September 4th
Five tremors hit Málaga Province in 24 hours
By David Eade and Dave Jamieson
MÁLAGA IS STILL RECOVERING FROM LAST SATURDAY'S SPATE OF EARTH TREMORS WHEN FROM THE EARLY HOURS FIVE EARTH MOVEMENTS WERE RECORDED BY SEISMOLOGISTS, WITH THE STRONGEST, AT EIGHT MINUTES PAST MIDDAY, REGISTERING 4.2 ON THE RICHTER SCALE.
Two tremors were centred on Álora within 18 minutes of each other (02.50 and 03.08), the first one being of 1.7 and the other 3.1 on the Richter scale. Around the same time (03.05) a tremor of 2.4 was centred nearby in Pizarra.
Ten hours after the first tremor (12.08), a third occurred in the south east of the province not far from El Burgo. This tremor was also the strongest at 4.2 on the Richter scale. Six hours later (18.30) the last tremor was registered in Monda behind Marbella at 2.4.
The 12.08 tremor was felt in various towns including Fuengirola, Torremolinos and Vélez-Málaga. The tremor also caused alarm in some quarters of Málaga City and especially in Rincón de la Victoria, where people's homes vibrated, furniture shook and glasses rattled. The earthquakes' epicentres were in the sea, south west of the capital.
HIGH RISK ZONE
Málaga City sits on one of the main fault lines, the Agadir. It stretches from Asia through the Mediterranean to North Africa. In recent years major earthquakes along that line have occurred in the Balkans, Greece, Italy and Portugal. The city of Agadir in Morocco was virtually destroyed by two earthquakes, a tidal wave and fire between February 29 and March 1 in 1960.
Andalucía is the region in Spain where most seismic activity is recorded. Each year there are over a thousand earth tremors in the south of the Iberian peninsula. The vast majority, around 80 per cent of these, go un-noticed, as the intensity is very low.
In the last 20 years, 15 earth tremors exceeding 4.5 on the Richter scale have been registered in Spain. At the beginning of August a tremor occurred in Murcia that was felt in the neighbouring provinces of Almería and Granada. Earlier this year, in February, another tremor was recorded in Almería's Gergal area.
IMPOSSIBLE TO FORESEE
José Morales, head of the Andalucian seismic studies centre based in Granada explained
that the recent seismic activity experienced in the area did not necessarily mean that there were any signs of impending major earthquakes, although he did point out that seismic activity was very difficult to foresee, even in the case of a major movement.
Sr Morales added: "We really have no way of knowing what is going to happen in the future. Last century was relatively quiet as far as seismic activity was concerned but that does not necessarily mean that the present century will be as peaceful."
In any case he underlined that the situation in the south of Spain was not the same as that in Mexico and Japan, where earth tremors occur on a much larger scale and at shorter intervals of time.
COSTA LOOKS FORWARD TO TOURISM RECOVERY
September and October booking figures forecast high occupancy levels
By David Eade
THE COSTA DEL SOL IS HOPING THAT THE MONTHS OF SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER WILL SIGNAL A RECOVERY IN THE TOURISM MARKET.
Booking figures in hotels for Spain in general are down 10.6 per cent in September and 16.9 per cent in October. However, Costa tourism chiefs are optimistic that the booking levels in the region's hotels will be around the same level as last year.
Currently the Costa del Sol anticipates achieving in September an occupancy level of between 80-85 per cent in the four and five star hotels and 72 per cent in the three star establishments. In October the four and five star hotels have levels of between 72-76 per cent whilst the three stars have between 64-67 per cent.
BENALMÁDENA FULLY BOOKED
On a more positive note, the resort of Benalmádena is reporting that 100 per cent occupancy is anticipated for the month of September. The hotels Tritón and Riviera on Benalmádena Costa are already fully booked for that month, the Alay has 85 per cent occupancy and the five-star Torrequebrada is also 80 per cent booked.
The councillor for Tourism, Luis Bonel, puts the resort's success down to the diversity of its attractions. He said: "We don't just offer the tourist sun and beach. We offer the widest range of leisure and recreational activities on the Costa del Sol."
FUENGIROLA OPPOSES BAR CLOSING
By David Eade
Regional government recently introduced regulations to combat the phenomenon of the 'botellón', which is responsible for groups of young people drinking on the streets into the early hours of the morning. One of the measures was to order all restaurants and bars to close their terraces at 2.00. This move has brought protests from both business owners in Fuengirola and from the Town Hall.
The town's councillor for finance, Ana Mula, opposed the measure on two grounds. She said it only criminalized the safe, quiet and orderly pastime of drinking or eating on a terrace and did nothing to combat the indiscriminate consumption of alcohol on the public streets. In addition it threatened employment as it prevents people from taking a coffee or an ice cream on a terrace in the early hours of the morning.
Owners and staff at the town's bars agreed with Sra Mula's assessment of the problem. Waiters feared that the new measures would affect their income as they would no longer be able to serve customers on the terraces in the peak summer months when people often stayed out late. Many owners said the measures would do nothing to combat the 'botellón' but would only affect law abiding customers who wished to sit peacefully on a bar or restaurant terrace.
VÉLEZ FIRE RAISES TOWN SECURITY CONCERNS
Blaze also highlights illegal work on industrial estates
By Dave Jamieson
LAST WEEK'S MAJOR FIRE ON AN INDUSTRIAL ESTATE IN VÉLEZ-MÁLAGA HAS RENEWED CALLS FOR THE TOWN TO HAVE BETTER FIRE PROTECTION.
The blaze broke out in the afternoon, destroying three businesses, seriously damaging others, and causing damage to vehicles, stock and machinery estimated at two million euros. The fire is believed to have started in an area used as a rubbish dump, and was fanned by strong winds. Fire crews took 17 hours, and a million and a half litres of water, to extinguish the outbreak.
Local security councillor Antonio López Guerrero said that it took half an hour from the time the alarm was raised at 15.27 before five emergency vehicles and 11 officers arrived at La Pañoneta estate. He rejected claims that the local volunteer firemen took an hour to attend. Fire crews from Málaga and Rincón de la Victoria were also called to the outbreak.
TOWN HALL AT FAULT
As well as improved fire security, the incident has highlighted the high number of industrial units on the town's industrial estates which have no opening licence, and lack basic sanitation and other essential services. Many businesses have reported being forced to work illegally, since the Town Hall will not provide a licence where facilities are inadequate, yet, despite repeated requests over many years, has not provided the necessary infrastructure to support these.
REGIONAL GOVERNMENT RULES AGAINST TOWN HALL
By David Eade
The long-running saga over the status of the land known as 'explanada ganada al mar' by Estepona's leisure port has entered a new phase. Regional government has now ruled that Estepona Town Hall may not sell the property by public auction. In addition it has refused to annul the registration of the land in the name of the property company Marín Hillinger.
During the GIL era the land was owned by the Town Hall. It was then transferred to a municipal company Servicios Estepona XXI that in turn sold it to Marín Hillinger. However the Town Hall has since then passed from GIL to PSOE then PP control, stating that it had cancelled the sale to Marín Hillinger and had taken back the ownership of the land.
In April of this year, regional government had approved a plan by the Town Hall to sell the more than 35,000 square metres of land by public auction. Now, after representations by Marín Hillinger, the autonomous authority seems to have accepted that the land is registered in the company's name and in addition the finance company Cajasur has a 3,600 million euro mortgage registered against it.
Estepona Town Hall will now take the matter to court to determine who actually owns the land. The final decision will be awaited anxiously by the many residents of the apartment blocks looking over the disputed site. They are fearful that any development could overshadow them, block their view of the sea and consequently lower the value of their properties.
ECOLOGISTS PLAN ACTION OVER GIBRALTAR OIL SPILLAGES
By David Eade
THE ECOLOGY GROUP VERDEMAR IS THREATENING TO ORGANISE A MAJOR PROTEST AGAINST OIL SPILLAGES IN THE BAY OF ALGECIRAS.
The ecologists say they will blockade all the ports in the bay with small ships unless central government in Madrid takes action against the frequent cases of contamination. The group has been spurred into action after an oil spillage in Gibraltar's waters washed up on the Poniente beach in La Línea closing it to bathers.
The latest spillage was detected just after 13.00 on Saturday when a vessel in transit across the bay reported an oil spillage to the Coast Guard Centre in Algeciras. The report stated that the oil was in the San Felipe area and that it appeared to be coming from Gibraltar's territorial waters. The Coast Guard contacted the Gibraltarian authorities, who confirmed that there had been a spillage and that they were tackling it.
The diesel oil spillage had come from the tanker 'Vemamagna' which was anchored off Gibraltar. The tanker was in the process of taking on board fuel from the fuel tender 'Dibuiti' when the spillage occurred. According to reports the oil slick was spread over an area of two kilometres and despite the efforts of specialist cleaning vessels it washed up on the beaches of both La Línea and San Roque.
VERDEMAR THREATENS BLOCKADE
The spokesman for Verdemar in the Campo de Gibraltar region, Antonio Muñoz, said: "If we have not received from the Ministry of Public Works a response to our request for measures to control the oil spillages be September, we will proceed to cut off the ports in the bay with boats." Sr Muñoz said there were three main contamination problems in the bay; oil spillages from vessels, industrial activity around the zone and the more than 100,000 vessels that passed through its waters each year.
Sr Muñoz went on to say that the ecologist group was going to denounce Gibraltar before the competent organisations of the European Union. He added that the ecologists knew that in the port of Gibraltar they loaded and unloaded fuel oil and despite the groups protests, the Gibraltarians were not doing their upmost to prevent spillages. He warned that the Campo de Gibraltar had to mobilise because the situation was getting very serious.
The Mayor of La Línea, Juan Carlos Juárez, has announced that the municipality will send the bill for the costs of cleaning up the beach to the Government in Madrid and to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Sr Juárez said it would be for the ministry to reclaim the money from the Gibraltarian and British authorities.
BANUS STATUE CASE HEADS FOR MOSCOW
The case against Marbella's former Mayor, Jesús Gil, and members of his government team including the current Mayor, Julián Muñoz, relating to the giant Puerto Banús statue seems to be Moscow bound. The Málaga prosecutor now wants all the interrogations and enquiries to pass to a complementary commission in the courts of Moscow so that the statue's sculptor Zubrab Tsreteli can give evidence.
Jesús Gil and his team stand accused of misappropriation of public funds, falsifying public documents and obstructing justice. Tsreteli's statue 'La Victoria' now dominates Puerto Banús, but the case surrounding it was first brought before the courts by the PSOE party seven years ago. A further delay occurred in August of last year when papers relating to the proceedings were amongst those stolen from the Marbella court.
The Gil administration has always maintained that the statue was donated to the town by Zubrab Tsreteli. However, PSOE claims that Marbella Town Hall was involved in a fraudulent operation involving a million euros and the transfer of two parcels of land in the Guadalmina urbanisation to the sculptor. PSOE opposes the case being moved to Russia but the Marbella court is taking the matter to the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.