News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week January 16th to January 22nd
NO FEAR OF FLYING
Home Office discounts 'desperate terrorist threats'
By James Parkes and Danny Collins
THE HOME OFFICE HAS DISMISSED RECENT THREATS BY THE BASQUE TERRORIST GROUP TO ATTACK INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES AS AN 'INEFFECTUAL PLOY TO DAMAGE THE SPANISH TOURISM SECTOR'.
The threats were contained in letters sent to three international airline companies last week and have all been passed on to police for examination. Police confirmed the letters are poor quality photocopies posted in Rentería (Guipúzcoa). Home Office Minister Angel Acebes said he regarded the sending of the letters as 'an act of desperation', referring to the diminished power of ETA following the arrests of many of the organisation's leaders. He reminded tourism companies that similar letters are sent out every year.
His words were echoed by Tourism General Secretary Juan José Güimes, who claimed 'ETA's only intention is to seek publicity'.
Minister Acebes emphasised that 'forewarned is forearmed' and said any attempt to carry out a terrorist attack in a Spanish airport or on an aircraft would fail due to extensive security measures introduced over the past months. All hand luggage is currently x-rayed, passengers are searched at random and, as Costa del Sol News announced last week, all hold luggage will soon be x-rayed at Málaga and other Spanish airports following EU directives.
VERY LOW RISK
The UK Foreign Office website has informed all British holidaymakers of the threats to the Spanish tourism sector. It adds: "Despite the recent bombs along the Costas and other parts of Spain, statistically your chances of being involved in a terrorist attack are still very low." The website also admits that the British Embassy and several other embassies in Madrid have received the same threatening letter.
An anti terrorist expert on airport security said: "It seems ETA has overplayed its hand by naming specific targets. A basic tenet of terrorism is surprise. Although all threats should be taken seriously, this appears to be a very feeble attempt at sabre rattling by an organisation that has seen the writing on the wall."
Miguel Sánchez, President of AEHCOS, the Costa del Sol Hotel Association, expressed a similar view on the matter and pointed out that: "No tourist resort is completely free from terrorist threats, however, we must be aware that security measures both at airports and hotels are very high, thus minimising any risks for tourists".
COSTA DEL COLD, MORE LIKELY
Widespread disruption as temperatures drop and snow falls
News Staff Reporters
THERE WAS NO ESCAPING LAST WEEK'S COLD SNAP WITH USUALLY MILD SEASIDE RESORTS REGISTERING LOWS OF FIVE DEGREES.
Spain's severe winter weather last week has resulted in a rise in hospital admissions. Cases of bronchitis and pneumonia have increased sharply at Málaga's Carlos Haya and Clínico Universitario hospitals, with some wards completely full.
Drivers were advised to travel only in emergencies, check on the state of roads before setting out, fill the petrol tank, and to take extra clothing, food and a mobile telephone. Snow on higher ground in Málaga closed roads and caused problems for communities at more than 1,000 metres above sea level, while strong winds forced sea travel to Melilla to be suspended. In the capital, sales of heaters rose by 50 per cent as temperatures dropped by 10 degrees in a day, while electricity suppliers reported record demands for power.
In Granada, the Alhambra Palace was covered in snow for the first time in over a decade, while the province's authorities called for calm as up to 10 centimetres of snow accumulated in outlying villages. Ski enthusiasts were happy with 5.1 kilometres open in the Sierra Nevada, while, near Vélez-Málaga, a strange phenomenon last Friday saw cloud lingering on nearby mountains, exactly replicating the peaks' shapes.
HUNDREDS TRAPPED IN ICE
As many as 500 people were trapped in their cars in the Saucillo pass in the Sierra de la Nieves for nine hours. A 20 minute downpour turned to ice thus making the road impassable. The Guardia Civil and civil defence teams rescued the occupants of 100 cars who were trapped in their icebound vehicles. The main road between San Pedro de Alcántara and Ronda has been closed on several occasions during the past week due to snow. On Friday the road was closed for six and a half hours and again on Sunday the road was closed for four hours.
Nonetheless thousands of people from the province of Málaga did manage to head off over the weekend to enjoy the snow in the mountains that bear its name, the Sierra de las Nieves. On Sunday the Guardia Civil had to cut the access to the road to Los Quejigales after more than 4,000 vehicles poured into the zone.
The lowest temperatures in the province were reported in Ronda where it was two degrees below zero and was the coldest town in the province of Málaga. And even the beachfront towns of the Costa del Sol felt more like the Costa del Cold, with seaside cities such as Estepona, Benalmádena, and Torremolinos registering lows of around five degrees.
TWO BRITONS KILLED CROSSING N-340
By David Eade
A 76-year-old British woman, initials G.M.F, and a 7-year-old girl, A.S.H, died as they attempted to cross the N-340 at the El Saladillo urbanisation in Estepona. The tragedy happened at km. 166 in the direction of San Pedro when the two victims attempted to cross the road but where hit by a car.
The accident scene was attended by a UVI ambulance from San Pedro but the woman was already dead when the medical team arrived. They worked on saving the life of the child for an hour but without success. Residents in the area have been campaigning for the erection of a pedestrian walkway over the N-340. People are currently dicing with death attempting to cross the busy dual carriageway in order to reach the two supermarkets on the other side of the road. The nearest crossing point is around half a kilometre away.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE INCREASES IN FUENGIROLA
By David Eade
OFFICIAL FIGURES REVEAL THAT THE NUMBER OF REPORTED CASES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN FUENGIROLA HAS INCREASED BY 10 PER CENT IN THE LAST YEAR.
A total of 48 women sought refuge at the Centro de la Mujer de Fuengirola after being the victims of ill treatment from their male partners. This is five more cases than in 2001. Out of the 48 cases, 19 women decided to make official legal complaints against their partners for maltreatment. Two of those were moved to a safe house and an emergency medical centre respectively. However, according to the authorities these figures represent just a small proportion of the number of women who are victims of domestic violence.
Fuengirola's councillor for equality, Inmaculada Barranquero, said that the majority of women did not seek help the first time they were maltreated but waited for the second or third occasion. The situation was worse in cases where women lacked their own economic resources, were uneducated and had children. She stressed that local institutions could help these women obtain an education and assist them in finding work.
DEATH FALL INVESTIGATED
Meanwhile the 33-year-old Swedish man, initials HMRH, who is alleged to have been directly involved in the fall of his 28-year-old Colombian girlfriend from their second floor flat window has been detained in prison without the option of bail. The woman, DJV, fell to her death after hitting her head on an air-conditioning vent in the Calle San Rafael. A 35-year-old Frenchman who was in the couple's flat at the time of the fatal incident has been released by Fuengirola court but must report to the judge on a regular basis.
The two men were held for two days at the National Police station in Fuengirola for questioning. Police teams have also been undertaking a scientific investigation of the apartment. It is understood that the accused's defence lawyer might argue that the woman's death was either suicide or an accident. However, neighbours have reported that there was a loud argument on the night of her death and that such rows were not infrequent.
GAS BLAST KILLS TWO IN MALAGA
Tenant releases gas in bid to escape eviction
By Dave Jamieson
A gas explosion in an apartment block caused the deaths of two people in the north of the city of Málaga last week. According to police, a 57-year-old woman had threatened to blow up her rented, second-floor flat, in an attempt to avoid eviction. The victim opened three bottles of gas in the kitchen leading to neighbours, who were alerted by the strong smell, calling the emergency services. When they arrived on the scene, electricity was cut to the block and a locksmith tried to gain entry to the property. As the front door was opened, the gas exploded, seriously injuring the two firemen entering.
A man crossing the street at the time died later in hospital from serious injuries caused by falling debris, while eight other people, including other emergency service officers, also received injuries. Following the explosion, 40 families had to be moved out of neighbouring apartments, although most were allowed back later in the day. Málaga's mayor, Francisco de la Torre, said the city would pay for repairs to properties damaged in the incident.
ALHAURIN TO GET RING ROAD
By Oliver McIntyre
ALHAURÍN DE LA TORRE MAYOR JOAQUÍN VILLANOVA ANNOUNCED LAST WEEK THAT CONSTRUCTION WILL BEGIN IN LATE FEBRUARY ON THE FIRST SECTION OF THE RING ROAD BEING BUILT TO EASE TRAFFIC CONGESTION IN THE TOWN CENTRE.
Work will begin on the east side of the town, with the western portion of the ring to be built at a later date. The first section of the ring road will consist of an avenue running along the lid of the Arroyo del Gato. The 1.5-kilometre stretch of road will connect Fuensanguínea to the fairground area. According to Urban Planning Councillor Gerardo Velasco, the avenue will be 17 metres wide, with one lane of traffic in each direction and space for up to 250 cars to park along the sides. The new road will provide an alternative route for many of the vehicles that currently clog the town's centre. It will provide access to the industrial parks outside town and to the future health centre planned for the area. In addition, busses that currently pass through the middle of town will be re-routed to the new perimeter road.
MAY COMPLETION DATE
According to Mayor Villanova, the new avenue on the east side of town is to be completed in May. Plans for remainder of the ring road - the portion to be built on the west side of town - will be undertaken at the next session of the town council. That section of road will connect Arroyo del Pinar to the new east-side avenue.
FREE BUS TO COSTA DEL SOL HOSPITAL
By David Eade
Whilst Estepona waits for its second health centre to be built, which will greatly improve the medical facilities in the municipality, the Town Hall has decided to lay on a free bus to take patients to the Costa del Sol hospital in Marbella. In announcing the new service, the councillor for health, Lorenzo Guerra, said the bus would have the capacity to transport 20 patients.
To qualify for the free service patients must obtain a special ticket in advance from the Bienestar Social office situated in the Mar y Sierra area. The telephone number of the office is 952 80 41 00. The new bus service will pick up patients on the Avenida España opposite the Portillo bus station and drop them off at the same point. Busses will leave Estepona at 07.00, 11.00 and 13.00 and return from the hospital at 09.30, 12.00 and 15.00.
CALLE LARIOS TO REOPEN TO TRAFFIC
Town Hall proposes opening of the street during a set number of hours
By Oliver McIntyre
MÁLAGA TOWN HALL HAS ANNOUNCED ITS PROPOSAL TO REOPEN THE HISTORIC CENTRE'S CALLE LARIOS TO CAR TRAFFIC BETWEEN 10 O'CLOCK IN THE EVENING AND 10 O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING, WHEN MOST BUSINESSES ALONG THE POPULAR SHOPPING AVENUE ARE CLOSED.
The street was closed to traffic during recent renovation work, and has remained pedestrian-only since completion of the work. The Town Hall's proposal would leave the street closed to cars during the hours when Calle Larios is busiest with foot traffic - the shopping hours between 10.00 and 22.00. Later at night, when there are fewer pedestrians along the avenue, the opening of the street to car traffic would, according to the Town Hall's proposal, provide more activity and an increased sense of security. The proposal leaves open the possibility that pedestrian-only hours could be extended on weekends.
While Calle Larios would be open to traffic only during the night, the Town Hall proposal calls for Plaza de la Constitución to be open to cars all day long. The Plaza would link Calles Cisneros and Especerías to Calle Granada, thus serving as the main entrance into the town centre.
REACHING A COMPROMISE
The Town Hall's proposal comes as a compromise in the face of conflicting desires for the capital's most popular shopping avenue. The public, and many of the avenue's retail stores, have generally been in support of the street's closure to car traffic. But some businesses, including large hotels in the area, have expressed concerns about potential impacts on their operations. After discussing its proposal in meetings with the various concerned parties (shop owners, residents, hotel operators, etc.), the Town Hall expects to make a final decision for the future of Calle Larios by January 15.
THREE KINGS BRING CONTROVERSY TO RINCON
Claim that sweets for children contained alcohol
By Dave Jamieson
Rincón's visit from the Three Kings has led to complaints and political friction. According to the leader of the opposition Partido Popular in Rincón de la Victoria, Francisco Salado, some of the sweets, thrown by the seasonal visitors to the town's children, contained alcohol. He claimed around 300 kilograms of the 3,000 distributed on January 5 'contained some alcohol' and were in wrappers which carried the names of two alcoholic brands.
The allegation brought immediate complaints from local parents, while local health authorities examined the sweets and confirmed that around one in five was of the type described. Sr Salado was critical of the local councillor responsible, Samuel Huesca, for purchasing sweets not suitable for use at the event which was aimed at children, and said that he had sent a formal complaint to regional government.