Costa del Sol News - 30th October 2009

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

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Marbella-Arctic road trip raises £4,600 for charity

Five-man crew in two 20-year-old cars raced 6,700 miles in under five days

By Oliver McIntyre

When Ross Holland and four friends embarked on a charity fundraising ‘cannonball run' from Marbella to the Arctic Circle in two 20-year-old Seat Marbella cars last month, they set an optimistic target of five days to make the 6,700-mile trip.  Four days and 21 hours later, the jubilant if tired and weary crew had met the challenge - and now they hope to meet their fundraising target as well.

Already the group, who dubbed themselves the Arctic Marbellas, have raised more than £4,600 of their target of £6,700 - one pound for every mile of the marathon road trip to the ‘top of the world'.  The money is for DebRA, the charity for the incurable genetic skin blistering condition Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). Children born with the condition are known as 'butterfly children' due to the extreme fragility of the sufferers' skin, comparable to a butterfly's wings.  Ross lost a 14-month-old niece to the disease.

Ross told Costa del Sol News that, despite the long hours and late nights, the road trip itself was "easier than I expected, but only thanks to the incredible performance of the cars, which astounded us all.  We were perhaps even a little disappointed not to have any anecdotes about long trudges through the snow to find farmhouses with telephones after serious breakdowns!"

What they did experience was a lot of goodwill - "we were constantly being smiled and waved at by passing motorists," said Ross.  One of the drivers, Shaun Dodimead, was stopped crossing into Sweden and was politely congratulated on his ‘little car' before being submitted to a breathalyser test as part of an anti-drink driving campaign.

Greatest satisfaction

Ross says his greatest satisfaction came not from completing the road trip but from "the knowledge that there are now more people out there with an awareness of the (EB) disorder. One of the worst parts about having a child with EB in your family is the constant need to explain to strangers why they are blistered and scarred. If more people were aware of EB than this often distressing situation would be made much better."

Donations to the EB charity DebRA will continue to be accepted on the Arctic Marbella's donation page ( until January.  Ross, along with Shaun and fellow team members John Allen, Jim Wright and Jon Short, send out a big thank you all their supporters.

Málaga airport bomber sentenced to 14 years

ETA operative planted bomb with ‘great destructive capacity' in failed attack

By Dave Jamieson

The ETA operative who planted a car bomb in the arrivals area at Málaga airport in 2001 has been sent to prison for 14 years.  The explosive was made safe by Tedax experts after it failed to detonate. 

Ismael Berasategui Escudero was sentenced at the National Court in Madrid last Thursday after a trial in which he faced charges of belonging to ETA's Behorburu Command where, with two others, he prepared stolen vehicles to be used as car bombs.  The vehicle used in the failed Málaga attack had false number plates and the boot was found to hold an explosive device consisting of a plastic container, detonators, timers and 53 kilos of Titadine, a type of compressed dynamite used in mining which is said to be 10 times stronger than explosives normally used by ETA.  The bomb was described as very dangerous and liable to explode through friction or even a rise in temperature.  The car was parked at the airport on the evening of July 25, 2001. 

At 7am next morning the terrorists phoned a warning to the authorities in San Sebastián identifying a white Peugeot 406 in the main car park and stating that the bomb hidden in it would explode an hour later.  The vehicle, which had been stolen in Guipúzcoa the previous week, was found close the main arrivals hall at 7.45am, after which the area was evacuated and all access roads to the airport closed.  The bomb failed to detonate and Tedax bomb disposal experts moved in.  Using a remotely controlled robot, they took over four hours to open the vehicle and find the device, and a further two and a half hours to deactivate it. 

200 flights disrupted

The court was told that the bomb had a "great destructive capacity" and that the vehicle had been left on the ground floor of the car park, above which runs one of the airport exit roads.  Almost 200 flights in and out of Málaga airport were disrupted during the incident which blocked access roads for seven hours. 

Death fall was drunken accident, rules coroner

Briton, 22, fell from fifth floor of hotel while jumping between balconies

By Oliver McIntyre

A 22-year-old Briton who fell to his death from the fifth floor of a Torremolinos hotel had been on an all-day drinking binge and was attempting to jump from one balcony to another, according to a coroner's inquest. 

Andrew Henderson, of Windsor, Berkshire, was on holiday with two friends when the tragic accident happened at the Torremolinos Beach Club hotel on April 19 this year. 

The inquest by Berkshire coroner Peter Bedford heard how the friends had started drinking at noon the previous day and had continued until well after midnight. When the other men went back to their room, Mr Henderson stayed out even later.  He was last seen alive at 5.30am by the hotel receptionist, visibly intoxicated and requiring assistance to his room.

His friends were awoken at 8.45am by another guest who informed them he had fallen from the balcony.

Mr Henderson was taken to hospital in Málaga but doctors were unable to save him.

‘Playing with friends'

The inquest heard how earlier in the holiday other guests had seen Mr Henderson jumping between balconies and he had told them he was just "playing with his friends."