News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Week August 12th to August 18th 2004.
HIGH RISK COSTA BEACHES
Two people drown in Fuengirola in one week
BY DAVID EADE
THE RED CROSS, RESPONSIBLE FOR SAFETY ON THE MAJORITY OF THE BEACHES OF THE COSTA DEL SOL, HAS REPORTED A HIGH-RISK LEVEL THIS SUMMER.
Two people have drowned in Fuengirola in the first days of August bringing the total of deaths this summer on the Costa to nine. In the same week 74 people were rescued, 68 of whom were bathers whilst the other six were practicing water sports.
Red Cross figures in that seven-day period have revealed that they assisted another five people to recover from the effects of drowning, while 10 people were sent to hospital or medical centres, 163 injuries were dealt with including 35 cases of jellyfish or other stings. A total of 337 people were attended to.
A Briton was amongst those rescued off La Línea’s Levante beach at the weekend. He was one of two people who caused alarm when they took to the violent seas despite the red warning flags. The other case was more serious and the bather was rushed to hospital.
RED FLAGS IGNORED
Meanwhile 15 bathers were rescued on the same day at the Getares beach in Algeciras. Lifeguards and medical teams were called in to action when people again took to the sea after completely ignoring the red warning flags that were flying.
The director of a company responsible for safety on Algeciras’ beaches, Diga 33, Francisco José Casaus, stated that in Spain for every 10,000 people that go to the beach 3,000 have a problem in the water and need to be rescued. In addition, for each thousand swimmers a quarter need some type of assistance. The authorities have issued a warning this summer and advice bathers to take notice of the warning flags at all times.
Briton fights for life after falling from fourth f
Police investigation points at another case of domestic violence
BY DAVID EADE
JUST OVER A WEEK AFTER A BRITISH MAN AND WOMAN DIED IN LA LÍNEA IN A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASE ANOTHER BRITON IS NOW FIGHTING FOR HIS LIFE IN MALAGA’S CARLOS HAYA HOSPITAL.
The man, identified by police as 46-year-old Ian W.R., fell from the fourth floor of an apartment block above the Unicaja bank in the centre of Torremolinos. The fall followed a violent argument with his boyfriend, 29-year-old Spaniard Claudio P.A., during which it is alleged he also suffered knife wounds.
The incident happened in the early hours of the morning and resulted in the arrest of the aggressor and the rushing of the victim to the Carlos Haya’s intensive care unit. At the time of going to press the Briton was in a coma and his condition was a grave cause for concern.
According to the police the couple had been living together in the apartment block in the Avenida San Francisco for several weeks. Residents of the block were stunned by the events but stated that they had heard an argument and loud cries during the night.
Residents said they had also heard other arguments on various occasions but nothing to suggest such a violent outcome.
Police to control airport taxis
By Dave Jamieson
Police officers are to control the area around the taxi rank outside Málaga airport’s arrivals hall. The move follows a meeting held last week following an impromptu strike of drivers a fortnight ago (CDSN last week) in protest at what they claimed was the ineffectiveness of the police to control unauthorised taxis at the airport.
The meeting with Málaga Town Hall’s councillor for security, Carlos Rubio, aimed to find a solution to the on-going conflict between legitimate taxi operators and other drivers in what has become one of the city’s long-running disputes. The decision to use police to monitor vehicles entering the area is only provisional, however, with Sr Rubio commenting that it did not ‘appear logical that the local police should have to regulate relations between different members of a professional group’. He added that, when the airport terminals are remodelled, it would be ideal to have taxi-only lanes which would avoid many problems. A hundred and sixty authorised taxis work out of the airport every week, but their drivers have long complained of the use of the rank by illegal vehicles or by taxis based at various towns along the coast.
While similar problems exist at Málaga’s railway station, the councillor said the new policing arrangement would apply only at the airport, although a solution would have to be found when the city’s new station for the high-speed rail link goes into service.
Police clampdown on fair’s young revellers
By Dave Jamieson
When Julio Iglesias opens Málaga’s annual fair tomorrow night, a police operation to clamp down on under-age drinking will have swung into operation. 786 local officers, 66 more than last year, will patrol the day and night fairs on the lookout for youngsters acquiring or drinking alcohol, a problem made difficult by the sheer volume of numbers, with crowds throughout the nine-day event expected to total six million.
In 2001, 340 under age drinkers required medical attention during the city’s fair and 108 were hospitalised, while by 2002, the number had fallen to 33.
Bars which sell alcohol to youngsters will be subject to a fine of up to 15,000 euros, or 60,000 euros for a repeat offence, followed by closure, while police will write to the parents of those minors found to be inebriated or under the influence of drugs. Last year, 44 Málaga families received such letters advising them of the behaviour of their under-18s.
Officers will also be alert to the presence of weapons. Last year, 11,000 revellers were asked to produce their documents while more than 9,000 people were frisked in searches for knives and other dangerous objects, following events of the previous year when 52 weapons were found and two injured in fights.
The precautions are in place to ensure the safety of the majority of visitors to the fair who simply want to have a good time. Following the official opening speech outside Málaga Town Hall at 11.45 tomorrow, a magnificent midnight firework display will mark the start of festivities, with 20 million euros expected to be injected into the local economy. City hotels are reporting a 70 per cent occupancy for the week, and tourism councillor, Antonio Urda, said he expected the final figure to equal or exceed last year’s total.
Fifty people flee Estepona blaze
BY DAVID EADE
A FIRE CAUSED BY A SHORT CIRCUIT IN AN ELECTRICAL SUPPLY LINE AT 16.45 ON SUNDAY SWEPT THROUGH THE CARMELITAS AREA OF ESTEPONA BURNING DOWN A CHALET, DAMAGING THREE OTHER DWELLINGS AND CAUSING AROUND 50 PEOPLE TO FLEE 20 HOMES IN THE AREA.
The fire burnt 25 hectares of land, 15 of which was covered in trees whilst the remaining 15 were scrub and agricultural land. The strong Poniente wind that was gusting up to 40 kms per hour and the 39 degrees of temperature propelled the fire to the zone known as Loma del Esparragal where it damaged several houses.
The determined response of the fire fighters ensured that the blaze was controlled within four hours. The regional fire control centre sent 13 technicians and agents to the scene and they were joined by 85 fire fighters, four fire engines, a fire fighting plane, two fire fighting helicopters and also a high capacity water carrying helicopter.
NEIGHBOURING TOWNS COME TO HELP
In addition the regional government’s ministry of the environment sent 16 additional specialists, an amphibious aircraft as well as a fire-fighting helicopter. Because of the speed at which the fire was travelling help was also requested from fire brigades in Benalmádena, Marbella, Mijas, Algeciras as well as the Estepona force.
Fortunately nobody was hurt or injured during the blaze. However four buildings were damaged three to differing degrees whilst one house was completely gutted.
Nerja goes against crime statistics
By Dave Jamieson
Nerja bucked the trend along the coast last year, with twice as many home break-ins as car thefts. Figures from central Government in Madrid show the town suffered 169 reported robberies from private houses and 85 vehicles stolen, whereas almost all other major municipalities showed far more car thefts than break-ins. Vélez-Málaga had only 97 intruders recorded – one of the lowest along the coast - but 256 cars were stolen, while the city of Málaga had 588 home break-ins but a huge 2,426 vehicle thefts. Throughout the province there were 3,714 attacks on houses and 6,210 attacks on vehicles, an average of 10.17 crimes of burglary and 17.01 crimes of vehicle theft every day.
Local Police in Málaga also announced figures for the recovery of stolen vehicles last week. The city’s security councillor, Antonio Cordero, said that during 2003, they had received 282 reports of vehicle theft, while 476 cars, bikes, vans and lorries had been recovered. So far this year, 188 reports have been received, 292 recoveries made, 16 people detained for alleged vehicle theft and 64 for the theft of goods from inside vehicles.
Environmentalists call for halt to golf courses
By David Eade
The ecologist group Agaden has written to the provincial delegate of the regional government’s environment department demanding urgent action to prevent the proliferation of golf courses in the Campo de Gibraltar area.
The environmentalists have called upon the regional government to honour its election pledges to hold a moratorium on the construction of new golf courses in the province of Cádiz, to create norms for the sustainable development of the region and prevent urban speculation.
Agaden says it is deeply concerned at the number of projects for future golf courses that currently exist amongst the various municipalities of the Campo de Gibraltar region. Six golf courses already exist in San Roque, largely at Sotogrande. There are at least another 25 on the horizon in the region, nine of which are suggested for Jimena, each with their accompanying urbanisations.
The environmentalists argue that the avalanche of golf courses and annexed urbanisations would transform the environment, is totally unsustainable and flies in the face of the plan for the sustainable development of Los Alcornocales that was approved by the regional government in 2001.
JEREZ FINED FOR IRRIGATING GOLF COURSES WITH DRINKING WATER
The regional government’s environment department has decided to fine Jerez town hall between 60,000 and 150,000 euros for watering the Sherry Golf Jerez course with drinking water. The decision to use drinking water provoked major protests by Ecologistas en Acción and the fines have been imposed under the previsions of the Declaration of Environmental Impact.
For its part Jerez Town Hall through its first deputy mayor, Pedro Pacheco, claims that the new golf course has a licence, complies with the plan and is operating in the same manner as half the golf courses in Cádiz. He said this was just another case of PSOE and the regional government being against Jerez.
Nerja expansion plan rejected
Town Hall claims regional government is against Nerja’s progress
BY DAVE JAMIESON
THE REJECTION OF PLANS TO URBANISE LAND BEHIND EL PLAYAZO BEACH HAS RE-OPENED THE LONG-RUNNING POLITICAL WAR BETWEEN NERJA AND THE JUNTA DE ANDALUCÍA, WITH THE MUNICIPALITY CLAIMING THAT THE REGIONAL GOVERNMENT IS STOPPING DEVELOPMENT.
In November, Nerja’s Town Council agreed to progress three projects which would require the reclassification of the land, presently used by local farmers and growers, but last week, the Junta dismissed the proposals in the short or medium term. The socialist-run Junta argues that the plan from Nerja Town Hall, which is controlled by the Partido Popular, is not a modification of land use, but a reduction of protected land, in which case the application should be subjected to closer scrutiny under the legislation which governs such special areas.
On receipt of the Junta’s verdict, the governing group at Nerja Town Hall accused the region of “braking sharply” on progress in the most important tourist town of the Axarquía, claiming the move as part of its political strategy to “pursue and bring down a rival”.
In recent years, a number of individuals and businesses have chosen socialist-controlled Torrox over Nerja as a place to live or in which to invest resources, something that, reportedly, “does not worry” members of the two main socialist groups, the IU and the PSOE. The battle of politics between Nerja and the Junta has flared up several times in recent years, in particular over vehicular access to the beaches of the Maro – Cerro Gordo natural park which Nerja claims are more restrictive than in socialist-controlled municipalities.
Other conflicts include the Junta’s accusation that Nerja was “encouraging illegal fishing” last winter, and the on-going row over the town’s planned golf course which the Junta is blocking because of mining rights previously award to the land. More recently, a difference of opinion over construction work for Nerja’s new swimming pool brought further confrontation and a work stoppage.
Deadly snake found in container at Algeciras
By David Eade
Officers of Seprona, the environmental division of the Guardia Civil, have removed a deadly Russell viper from a shipping container owned by Maersk at Algeciras port.
It was Maersk personnel who had first spotted the 60 centimetres long snake at mid-day. The Guardia Civil were summoned and along with members of the Rinconcillo animal protection society they undertook the task of locating and capturing the highly dangerous snake.
The Russell has its natural habitat in India and South East Asia. It is one of the deadliest snakes in the world and is said to kill the majority of the 10,000 people who die each year from snake bites in Sri Lanka. It lives between the sea and the mountains, grows to a length of 1.70 metres and is nocturnal.
The captured snake is currently being kept at the Castellar de la Frontera zoo. It is being housed is a secure cage whilst a decision is made about its future. The zoo already has the antidotes to deal with a bite from the viper although the snake is said to inject two to three times the venom needed to kill a human who will eventually die from heart failure.
The Axarquía rejects Málaga’s ‘dirty beaches’ blam
BY DAVE JAMIESON
ALLEGATIONS BY THE PROVINCIAL ENVIRONMENT DELEGATE, THAT THE AXARQUÍA IS TO BLAME FOR THE POOR STATE OF MÁLAGA’S CITY BEACHES, HAS BROUGHT A SWIFT RESPONSE FROM TOWN HALLS.
Speaking in the capital last week, Purificación Pineda claimed that the problems with its beaches stem from the municipalities on the eastern Costa del Sol which have, so far, failed to open stop pumping dirty waste into the Mediterranean. She said that while the city itself only deposited “completely clean” waste, “there are municipalities which do not have purification plants and are dumping waste directly, without cleaning, into the sea, where it is carried by the current,” which, she maintained, was mainly westwards.
The Mayor of Torrox, Francisco Muñoz, attacked the comments, accusing the councillor of making an unacceptable accusation against Axarquía communities, adding that he had never complained about residues which arrived on his town’s beaches from towns further east. The Mayor of Rincón de la Victoria, José Jesús Dominguez, who is also president of the Association of Eastern Costa del Sol Communities, also rejected the allegations and said his town cleaned all its waste water and had recorded no adverse incidents in recent months.
Antonio Souvirón, the socialist Mayor of Vélez-Málaga, suggested that Málaga was blaming others for its own problems and recalled that during its term in government, the Partido Popular had failed to complete its plans for an integrated sanitation system throughout the province. He added that the image of the Costa del Sol should be one of unity and not one of “sterile polemic”.
PENDING PURIFICATION PLANTS
In Nerja, one of the municipalities where a planned water purification plant has not yet been built, the councillor for beaches, José Miguel García, would not comment on Sra Pineda’s allegations but pointed out that health authorities had identified beaches where bathing conditions along the province’s coast had failed to achieve acceptable levels, but in no case had this included Nerja’s beaches.
A further two purification plants, at Torrox and Guadalhorce North, are yet to come into service, while five west of Málaga are reported to be working at less than full power. The Junta’s environment delegate, Ignacio Trillo, promised last week that the regional government would improve the quality of water along the coast and was doing everything possible to accelerate the constructions of purification plants in coastal municipalities of more than 15,000 inhabitants.
Cómpeta’s weekend of wine
BY DAVE JAMIESON
CÓMPETA IS PREPARING FOR ITS ANNUAL HOMAGE TO THE GRAPE THIS SUNDAY. AUGUST 15 IS THE DATE FOR THIS YEAR’S FIESTA WHICH, AS USUAL, WILL SEE SONG AND DANCE PERFORMED ALONGSIDE THE CONSUMPTION OF COPIOUS QUANTITIES OF LOCAL WINES.
The event pays homage to the town’s patron saint, Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, and is traditionally a day to make merry before the harvest begins. But since 1974, and thanks to a local man, Aurelio Fernández Navas, who started the practice of dispensing free samples of the local wine to revellers, it has become one of the Axarquía’s most important yearly events.
‘NOCHE DEL VINO’
This year’s “Noche del Vino” is expected to dispose of 4,000 litres of moscatel wine from Cómpeta’s producers, thanks to the thirsts of the anticipated 6,000 strong crowd. 300 litres of oil will be on hand to prepare migas, the traditional dish with which to soak up the alcohol. The day will begin with a solemn mass at 11.00 asking the patron saint to protect the vines for another 12 months. Later the town will see the traditional treading of the grapes followed by an afternoon and evening of music from a number of local musicians perpetuating the area’s folk customs, plus a performance from the flamenco group, Juncal.
MYTHS AND LEGENDS
This year, Cómpeta has invited a Vélez councillor and provincial deputy, Sara Sánchez, to be the guest of honour, and with the crowd, she will later enjoy a night of flamenco with Luis de Córdoba and Virginia Gámez amongst others. However, the town is this year playing something of a dangerous game. Legend says that it is unlucky for a woman to be the chief grape-treader at the fiesta, so, as one of Sara’s main duties will be to undertake that role, time alone will tell if the old tale holds true.