Costa del Sol News - 24th December 2010

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

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Caminito del Rey restoration finally set to start

An 8.3 million-euro project will see the currently perilous walkway converted into a major tourist attraction

By Oliver McIntyre

AFTER some 20 years of efforts to get the project off the ground, a comprehensive restoration of the famous Caminito del Rey cliff-hugging walkway at El Chorro is set to start in the coming months.

The president of the Diputación de Málaga, Salvador Pendón, last week presented the 8.3 million-euro project that will see the Caminito converted into a major tourist attraction for zone.

The project is expected to go out to tender in early 2011 with work to start sometime in the first half of the year, with a three-year completion timeline.

The restoration plan calls for the "conservation of as much as possible of the original elements" of the cantilevered pathway pinned to the cliff wall an average of 100 metres above the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes gorge. Parts that have to be replaced or rebuilt will be done with materials aimed at matching the existing elements in order to faithfully recreate the original look of the early 20th-century structure.

The Caminito, which was built between 1901 and 1905 to move workers and materials back and forth between the El Chorro Falls and the Gaitanejo Falls on either side of the gorge. It was christened the Caminito del Rey, or King's Pathway, after King Alfonso XIII walked along it in 1921 when he came to inaugurate the Conde del Guadalhorce dam.

Christmas air chaos

Air alert extended as bad weather affects flights

By Dave Jamieson

THE STATE of alert introduced to force Spain's air traffic controllers back to work after recent wildcat strike action has been extended to January 15.

The Royal Decree permitting the move was published on Saturday as bad weather caused dozens of delays and cancellations at Spanish airports.

The weekend's Official State Bulletin confirmed the decision of Ministers at Friday's cabinet meeting to extend the state of alert which was introduced on December 4.

The measure was approved in Congress the previous day in order to protect air travel over the holiday period.

Earlier, the controllers' union, USCA, presented signatures representing about 85 per cent of the Spanish sector's workforce promising to resolve their dispute through negotiation. However, their representative César Cabo told a press conference that extending the state of alert would create, "a bad situation for negotiations."

Severe weather disruptions

Meanwhile, dozens of flights in and out of Spain have been cancelled over the last week as severe winter weather hit northern Europe. Airports operator Aena said flights from the UK and Germany were worst affected, although travellers from Belgium and the Netherlands were also hit by serious delays.


Flood waters drown pets and destroy PAD's animal protection centre

By David Eade

IF YOU can donate cat or dog food, bedding, fridges, washing machines, tumble dryers, or are handy at repairs PAD urgently needs to hear from you.

On Sunday flood waters poured through the Mijas animal protection centre sweeping cats and dogs to their deaths and flooding the installations.

It is not the first time the Fuengirola river has burst its banks and flooded the PAD centre at Cerros del Águila but never has the destruction been so catastrophic.

Lisa from PAD told the Costa del Sol News: "It is a terrible situation. The losses are devastating to us. Nine dogs and eleven cats died. The drainage we had installed last year is very efficient and works well. The problem is the huge wall that has been built between us and the new sewerage treatment plant. The water which could have continued on its journey when the river bursts its banks has no where to go but back to us.

"We have always had a problem but now we cannot control it in any way. It happens so quickly and if it wasn't for the people that turned up at 7.00 on Sunday morning to evacuate the shelter it would have been a lot worse.

If you have any items to donate or wish to volunteer Lisa stresses: "please do not take things down this week as we need to clean up and re-organise first. In the first instance make contact with PAD at: [email protected] or phone them on: 952 468 054. PAD and the animals are counting on you.

New report of alleged baby snatching in La Línea

Estepona mother wants proof that daughter's body is in her tomb

By David Eade

ANOTHER case has come to light involving a mother who gave birth to a child at La Línea hospital and who was declared dead shortly after birth. The mother fears her daughter was kidnapped and passed to adoptive parents or sold.

The baby died in 1981 and was buried not in the local cemetery but in Estepona. It is the town where the family resides and after three of her children were born in La Línea's hospital the mother opted to have her fourth delivered there too.

There were difficulties with the birth and the baby was delivered by caesarean section. The mother was told the baby was a girl but had died shortly after delivery. The family was informed the infant would be buried in La Línea but the mother demanded the body be taken to Estepona for interment.

The transfer cost her 18,000 pesetas. At the funeral her mother-in-law asked to see the baby but she was told it was not possible to open the coffin.

The mother says she has always had doubts about what happened to her daughter but the recent investigation into babies that possibly disappeared after birth at the municipal hospital and two private clinics in La Línea heightened her suspicions.

She contacted Cristina Díaz Carrasco, who first highlighted the possible disappearance of her brother last November, and now wants the tomb opened to see if the remains of her child are inside.

Woman dies as car plunges off unfinished road

Residents claim barriers erected to block entrance to the road have frequently disappeared thanks to vandalism and robbery

By Dave Jamieson

A ROW has broken out in Alhaurín de la Torre after a weekend road accident left a 72-year-old woman dead. The car she was travelling in fell eight metres off the end of a road which is under construction.

The incident took place on Saturday evening at which time the area was being pounded by heavy rain, accompanied by strong wind and thunder, which caused reduced visibility. The vehicle was in the area of Urbanisation Retamar when it turn into a recently-surfaced road near calle Catamarán which will eventually link Retamar II with Santa Clara. Presently, the carriageway ends after about 80 metres with a sheer drop. The car left the road and plunged downwards, landing on its roof. It appears there was no signage either at the entrance to the road to prevent vehicles entering or at the end to warn that they should proceed no further.

The woman who died at the scene was accompanied by her 67-year-old husband who was not seriously injured and managed to scramble back to the roadway where he flagged down another car for help. He was later admitted to hospital for treatment.

However, it is unclear which of them was driving with the emergency services claiming he was at the wheel while Local Police who attended the incident said it was his wife.

Ryanair threatens Spanish air traffic controllers

Airline also calls for EU to ban strikes by ‘essential services' workers

By Dave Jamieson

EUROPE'S largest low-cost airline says it will take action against Spain's air traffic controllers following their wildcat strike action two weeks ago.  Ryanair has also called on the EU Commission to ban essential services staff from striking.

In a statement on Monday, the carrier described as "unacceptable" that Spain's air traffic controllers, "some of whom earn almost one million euros per year, continue to engage in strikes, go-slows and work to rules, causing delays and misery for millions of European passengers without any financial ramifications."  Ryanair said it now planned legal action against those responsible for the stoppages on December 3 and 4 which forced the cancellation of 500 of its flights. 

It claims to have cancelled 2,500 and delayed 13,000 flights already this year as a direct result of action by Belgian, French and Spanish controllers.  "Under EU261 regulations," the statement continued, "airlines suffer the costs of these disruptions without any recourse against those unions calling strikes or the EU governments who own the (air traffic controllers) and repeatedly allow European airspace to be closed." 

The airline also wants the EU to intervene by removing the right to strike from those who perform essential services, such as air traffic controllers, and to punish those who contravene this by sacking them.  It has called for a revision of the EU261 passenger rights legislation in order to relieve the airlines of the obligation to care for passengers in cases where the causes of delays or cancellations are clearly outside the airlines' control.

Such a reform would have been to the airlines' collective benefit earlier this year when ash clouds from an Icelandic volcano forced the closure of most of European airspace.  However, in a separate statement this week, Ryanair said that by June 30 it had refunded all tickets cancelled at that time, and had responded to all compensation claims by November 30.  It added that over 90 per cent of these claims had been settled and that was continuing to negotiate with the remainder. The ash cloud caused 10,000 Ryanair flights to be cancelled affecting 1.45 million of its passengers.

Meanwhile, the Spanish government is expected to pass to Congress today a proposal to extend the ‘state of alert' that was declared during the controllers' strike, in order to ensure air travel is not disrupted during the Christmas holiday period.