News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week January 23rd to January 29th
OIL SPILL THREAT
Tanker sinks off the bay of Algeciras and sparks regional reaction
By David Eade
AT 05.00 ON TUESDAY MORNING THE SPANISH OWNED TENDER SPABUNKER 4 SANK IN 50 METRES OF WATER, 1 MILE OFF THE CEPSA REFINERY IN THE BAY OF ALGECIRAS.
Two of the crew members were rescued by Coast Guard launches while the third crew member, Captain Miguel Roiz's body was found later in the day. Sr Roiz had been serving the company for 20 years.
The tanker was carrying 1,000 tons of fuel, 900 of which was fuel oil and the remaining 100 tons gas oil. A huge oil slick has formed in the Bay of Algeciras produced by the vessel's own petrol leaking out. The tons of fuel oil carried by the tanker are initially not believed to have spilled out. Emergency teams are working full out to prevent the oil coming ashore. The Spanish authorities are being assisted in the rescue and clean up operations by specialist vessels from Gibraltar which are also attempting to ensure the pollution does not reach the Rock.
British vessel, Sefton Supporter, currently posted in Galicia helping with the Prestige disaster is also on its way down to Andalucian waters in order to aid in the clean up of the oil. The sinking of the Spabunker 4 comes just one day after five Greenpeace activists and 15 Spanish journalists held a daring demonstration in the Bay of Algeciras at which they boarded one of the tankers and displayed a protest banner. At that point the Royal Gibraltar Police intervened and arrested both the demonstrators and the Spanish journalists.
Although 20 people had been arrested by the RGP, only six are due to appear in court. All the arrested journalists were released by the police without charge after a rumoured massive diplomatic dispute between London and Madrid.
REGIONAL GOVERNMENT TAKES ACTION
In an effort to tackle the issue, regional government intends to publish its emergency plan to tackle any major oil spills that occur off the coastline of Andalucía by the end of January. The project was recently announced by regional government spokesman Alfonso Perales. He said that the emergency plan would cover such areas as the tasks of cleaning, elimination of the oil residues and the regeneration of the contaminated areas where more than one municipality has been involved. Sr Perales stated that much of the emergency plan already existed based on the 'Ley de Emergencias' passed in Andalucía last autumn.
PORT OF REFUGE
One of the major issues to be raised by regional government will be the establishment of a port of refuge where vessels carrying contaminated cargoes can seek protection. The establishment of such ports has already been recommended by the EU, which put forward the idea after the Erika disaster off the French coast in 1999.
Regional government intends to formally ask the Spanish government to initiate discussions with Morocco and Portugal to establish such a port in the Straits of Gibraltar region.
INFLATION DOUBLE RECOMMENDED RATE
In Malaga, 4.3 per cent; nation-wide, 4 per cent
By Oliver McIntyre
THE PROVINCE OF MÁLAGA ENDED 2002 WITH AN OVERALL INFLATION RATE OF 4.3 PER CENT FOR THE YEAR.
This was the highest inflation of any Andalucían province, and was the seventh hardest hit province in the nation. According to the National Institute for Statistics (INE), the country's overall inflation for 2002 was four per cent, which puts it at double the rate officially recommended by the European Central Bank. Even removing the volatile energy and non-prepared food sectors, nation-wide inflation was 3.5 per cent (although, according to the Economy Ministry, there is currently a downward trend in this underlying inflation).
The consumer price index (IPC) showed price increases in all sectors except for communications, which experienced a 5.1 per cent decrease.
HOTELS HARDEST HIT
The hardest hit sector was the hotel and accommodations industry, which saw a 5.8 per cent increase in prices. The clothing and shoe industry followed close behind with a 5.3 per cent price hike, and the transportation industry saw the third highest increases, at 4.7 per cent. Sectors with lower-than-average price increases included leisure and entertainment (1.8 per cent), home furnishings (2.4 per cent), and medicine (2.6 per cent).
According to Economy Secretary Luis de Guindos: "It is impossible to call these developments positive." He concedes that the introduction of the euro - with the rounding up of prices and the lowered spending perception the new currency caused in many people - may have had a more intense effect than was projected.
Economy expects a slowing of inflation to be apparent by this spring, when the effects of last year's increase on indirect taxes begin to die out (indirect taxes have been frozen this year) and the 'euro effect' becomes a year old (the rounding was better controlled in the first few months of 2002). According to Economy, the indirect taxes (on things like tobacco, alcohol and hydrocarbon products) may have contributed as much as .5 percent to the 2002 inflation.
BRITS TARGETED IN CREDIT CARD SCAM
News Staff Reporter
The Costa del Sol Drug and Organised Crime Unit of Vélez-Málaga has arrested seven people suspected of being members of a credit card fraud ring. Four banking institutions, all with branches in Velez and Torre del Mar, have filed complaints related to the fraud.
According to police information, the group utilised point-of-sale credit card terminals, which it obtained by convincing banks that the machines were for commercial use. Instead, the machines were used to swindle money from credit cards of unsuspecting victims. The majority of the victims were British tourists or residents, many of whom were not even aware that the swindle had occurred and had not cancelled their card accounts. The fraud ring deposited the stolen funds into bank accounts and then rapidly withdrew the money from the accounts.
TRANSFORMER FIRE BLACKS OUT CENTRAL ESTEPONA
By David Eade
A FIRE IN AN ELECTRICAL TRANSFORMER LEFT 3,900 CLIENTS OF SEVILLANA-ENDESA IN ESTEPONA WITHOUT ELECTRICITY FOR THE BEST PART OF A DAY.
The fire occurred at 11.00 on Sunday morning in a transformer close to the town's central market building. This is the second recent fire in a transformer in the municipality, the first at Calanchilla cut power supplies for three hours.
Local police officers were the first on the scene and then contacted technicians from Sevillana-Endesa to cut the power supply. Once the power was switched off the local fire brigade was able to tackle the flames. At the time of going to press the cause of the fire was not yet known. Technicians were busy checking the high-tension power lines to see if they had been damaged but it is understood that the low-tension lines were worst affected by the blaze.
These two power failures were the latest in a recent spate of electricity supply problems to hit the town. Commenting on Sunday's fire a Town Hall spokesperson said: "This situation, joined with the recent problems caused by the rise in electricity consumption over Christmas, has plunged our municipality into a difficult situation that the Mayoress of Estepona, Rosa Díaz, is going to try to resolve over the next few weeks."
TOWN HALL REACTS
Estepona Town Hall has reacted angrily to the poor state of the electricity supply system in the town. Council officials confronted the local management of Sevillana-Endesa on Monday to seek an explanation for the frequent cuts in supply that affect both residents and companies in the municipality.
MAN STABS WIFE TO DEATH IN ALMERIA
Suspect turned himself in to police
News Staff Reporter
A man identified by the initials J.R.M. turned himself in to the Guardia Civil in Adra (Almería) last weekend, confessing that he had stabbed his wife to death after discovering her in the act of having sexual relations with another man, whom he described as an immigrant. The 51-year-old native of Cartagena told the police that they would find the body of his wife, Isabel Regina Díaz (49), near a greenhouse in the Puente del Río area. He indicated that he had stabbed her 15 times. Police, arriving at the scene along with an ambulance, found the woman's body in the specified location. The body was transported to the morgue in El Ejido, where a forensic autopsy was performed. The couple had eight children and lived in Tortosa. They were in Adra temporarily at the time of the murder.
MALAGA PILOT TO BE TESTED AFTER MELILLA CRASH
Nine injured following accident after landing
By Dave Jamieson
THE PILOT OF A FLIGHT FROM MÁLAGA WHICH CRASHED AFTER LANDING AT MELILLA AIRPORT LAST FRIDAY IS REPORTED TO HAVE INITIALLY TESTED POSITIVE FOR ALCOHOL AND COCAINE.
Nine people, including a pregnant woman, received light injuries when Air Nostrum flight IB8276, which took off normally from Málaga Airport at 11.19, had problems after landing at Melilla at 12.15, coming to rest close to the airport access road. The Fokker 50 aircraft was only a quarter full, carrying just 14 out of a possible 52 passengers, most of whom were seated in the rear section, plus five crew. It is understood some of the passengers left the aircraft through a break in the fuselage which had opened during the accident, and one of the passengers later complained of the 'total lack of co-ordination' in dealing with the injured.
The pilot is reported not to have advised Melilla control tower of any abnormalities on his approach and landing at the airport, and it was first speculated the aircraft's brakes failed, with passengers quoted as saying it accelerated, rather than slowed, once on the ground. However, the revelation that the pilot may have consumed alcohol and cocaine has now led Civil Aviation investigators to consider human error. The pregnant woman and the pilot were the only two of the injured to be detained in hospital over the weekend, but neither was seriously hurt.
AIRPORT RUNWAY UNDER STUDY
This is the third accident in four years to hit the Málaga to Melilla route, which is used by over 182,000 passengers every year. After the incident, local politicians of all parties called for an emergency plenary session to debate improvements to the enclave's air services, including an extension to the airport runway. Although later extended, Melilla runway featured in the Guinness Book of Records when it was opened in 1969 as one of the shortest in the world.
POLICE ARREST SUSPECT FOR TORREMOLINOS WELL MURDER
Victim and suspect were friends and had lived together
By Oliver McIntyre
Police in Torremolinos last week arrested a suspect in the case of the dead body found in the bottom of a well on an abandoned property earlier in the week. Police believe the 32-year-old suspect, identified as Jorge G.G., murdered the other man, possibly during the course of an argument about their previous dealings.
Police arrested the suspect in his home, at Calle Pez Dorado in Torremolinos. It was actually the home of the victim, who rented out a room to the suspected murderer. Police identified the victim as Salvador C.L., better known as 'El Cabra' ('The Goat'). His disappearance had been reported to the police in December, but the case did not move forward until January 13, when his body, with a plastic bag tied over its head, was found at the bottom of the abandoned well.
YOUNG MALAGUEÑO TO SAIL AROUND THE WORLD
First Andalucian to perform the feat alone
By Oliver McIntyre
SAILING OUT OF THE BENALMÁDENA MARINA LAST SATURDAY, 28-YEAR-OLD GASPAR CITOLER EMBARKED ON A TWO-AND-A-HALF-YEAR JOURNEY AROUND THE GLOBE.
The young sailor intends to make the entire trip solo, which would make him the first Andalucían to sail around the world alone. According to Sr Citoler, the high-seas adventure will be the fulfilment of a lifelong dream and the culmination of many years of training and competing as a sailor. At the age of eight, he qualified as an Optimist-class regatta sailor, and from there graduated to higher classes over the years, winning or finishing second in numerous regional, national and even international competitions.
AN EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME
Despite the fact that many of his sailing experiences have been in regattas and competitions, Sr Citoler views his around-the-world sailing trip as anything but a race. "The most important thing is to enjoy it," he says, indicating that he intends to take his time and have fun in the various ports he'll sail into all across the globe. Although he knows he could make the trip much faster, the youthful sailor smiles and says: "In two and a half years, I think I should be able to see all the places I want to see."
Prior to his departure, Sr Citoler thanked the sponsors - Benalmádena Town Hall, Club Naútico M. Benalmádena (under whose flag he has sailed for the last eight years), and Lauro Golf. Benalmádena Sports Councillor Manuel Crespo expressed the Town Hall's pleasure in supporting the young man's ambitious undertaking, calling it 'an example for other young people'.
In addition to the financial assistance from his sponsors, Sr Citoler put up a significant amount of his own money to help pay for the long voyage. He contributed a little under half the total price of the 42,000-euro boat that will be his home for the next two and a half years. He even sold his car to raise money for the trip. In all, he estimates the adventure will cost between 60,000 and 70,000 euros.
During his long voyage, Sr Citoler will use a laptop computer to maintain contact with friends and family. He'll also have a satellite phone, just in case he finds he really needs to hear another human voice.
PHOENICIAN REMAINS FOUND
More of Malaga's past comes to light
By Dave Jamieson
The historic centre of Málaga continues to reveal its archaeological secrets. Work in Calle Cister has recently uncovered a wall dating from the Phoenician period. A nine-metre stretch, discovered during construction work for a new five-star hotel, is thought to be a continuation of other remains found in the Palacio be Buenavista, the site of the new Picasso museum. The wall is believed to be part of a tower which once stood in the area.
The developers, Gallery Hotels, plan to incorporate the remains in their final design, and believe it may become the first hotel in the world with a Phoenician wall. The future Hotel Del Cister will also be home to a small museum and photographic display informing guests of the site's history.