Costa del Sol News - 17th August 2012

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

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Last minute reprieve for MÁlaga's big wheel

The Air Safety Agency is reported to have agreed to notify air traffic controllers and pilots of the presence of the temporary obstruction

By Dave Jamieson

THE GIGANTIC Ferris wheel which is the star attraction of this year's fair in Málaga started operating last Saturday as planned. Last minute negotiations resulted in the town hall's order to dismantle the Mirador Princess being rescinded.

Problems arose when it was found out that the top of the wheel is 80 metres above sea level, which is higher than the maximum permitted by the Air Safety Agency. It is around 20 metres taller than any structure permitted close to Málaga airport.

The order to dismantle the attraction was challenged by the wheel's owners who said that, with other fairground stalls now erected nearby, the space was not available to bring in the lifting gear and lorries necessary to remove it.

However, a series of meetings last week found a legal way to get round the problem.

The mayor of Málaga, Francisco de la Torre, explained that, because the structure is temporary, it can be excluded from the safety legislation, as has happened previously near other airports.

Aspandem owes 300,000 euros thanks to Junta

The failure of the Andalucía government to pay the handicapped association leaves local suppliers in a critical financial situation

By David Eade

THE FAILURE of the Andalucía government to make the payments due to the handicapped association Aspandem means that it in turn has not been able to settle the invoices of small local businesses in Marbella and San Pedro that supply it.

The situation is now critical because the outstanding bills for food and supplies amounts to around 300,000 euros.

The director general of Aspandem, José Juan López, said that many of those owed money were small businesses, some were even family concerns.

He stated that as of July 31 the regional government owed the handicapped association 753,000 euros adding: "This situation is lamentable."

The director general of Aspandem, that was formed some 32 years ago and declared a public utility in 1985, said the failure of the Andalucía government to honour its commitments not only risked the services and care given to the association's over 600 members, including the severely handicapped, but also endangered these local companies.

Aspandem has debts with 111 local suppliers dating from November of last year which total 285,000 euros. The amounts owed range from three to five figures with the largest at 29,000 euros. This is to a company that supplies the plants to the nursery where its members work as part of the labour integration project. The maintenance company is owed 13,500 euros and the butcher 9,900 euros.

Death brawl waiter held in prison

Suspect claims he was attacked by the two Finnish men he had helped home

By David Eade

THE FUENGIROLA judge investigating the death of a Finnish man, as he left a bar in Calahonda last Wednesday morning, has ordered a Moroccan waiter to be held provisionally in prison. Another Finnish man arrested at the same time has been released.

The tragedy happened in the early hours of last Wednesday morning when the 54-year-old victim, left the bar in Calahonda with the other two men.

The emergency services reported that a young man, believed to be the waiter, said he had been threatened by the two Finns and feared for his life. Residents in Calle Don José Orbaneja also said the waiter had rang doorbells seeking help.

When the Guardia Civil and local police arrived on the scene they found the young Finn attempting to resuscitate his fellow compatriot. A medical team were summoned but they were unable to save his life.

The waiter worked at the bar in the same street as the presumed murder took place. He said the two Finns had asked for his help in getting them home and he had taken them in his car. When they arrived he says the two men attacked him and he fled to call the police.


Worst wildfires in a decade kill three, destroy homes and devour hundreds of thousands of acres of land

By David Eade and Suzan Davenport

WiILDFIRES killed three people this week and have destroyed huge tracts of forest across the country this summer aided by three allies: drought, high temperatures and government cutbacks.

In ONE of the worst incidents, on Monday, a 41-year-old firefighter died in hospital after his team was hit by a thermal explosion causing flames to engulf them while they were trying to put a fire out at La Torre de les Maçanes (Alicante). A second firefighter, aged 50, was also killed and three other firefighters were injured.

A third man, an elderly Romanian tourist, was found dead on Monday after a wildfire was put out at Sant Joan Despí in Catalunya.

Almost 330,000 acres across the country have been devoured by the flames, more than triple from the same period in 2011 when almost 98,000 acres were affected, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment.

The three most affected regions, Catalunya, the Valencia region and the Canary Islands have fought the flames with hundreds of people less than in previous years, due to cutbacks. UGT union leader Antonio del Rio told the media that cutbacks are so severe that in some areas firefighters "don't have the right boots or gloves".

On Wednesday, eleven days after it first started, firefighters were still trying to extinguish the blaze on the island of La Gomera in the Canary Islands. The fire had been declared under control last Wednesday, but on Friday it rekindled and has so far destroyed 39 homes in the Valle Gran Rey area and around 10,000 acres of land.

At press time over 1.350 people were still waiting to return to their properties. On Tuesday several firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation, said the Canary Island emergency services. Also on Wednesday morning a new wildfire was reported on the island of Tenerife.

Coal miners regroup for further action

Spanish coal's state subsidies are due to be eliminated by 2018 under European Union agreements

By Dave Jamieson

UNIONS representing Spain's coal miners called on their members to return to work last Friday after 67 days of strike action.

However, they made it clear that protests against cuts in government subsidies to the sector would continue.

Juan Carlos Álvarez Liébana of the CCOO trade union said that this was not a backward step, but a pause to gather momentum.

"We will recharge the batteries," he said, "and will again stage a sustained mobilisation."

Workers who have staging sit-in protests at a number of mines were also urged to return to the surface and resume normal working.

Miners claims that cuts which the government has announced in subsidies to the sector threaten 30,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Earlier in the summer, demonstrations in northern Spain, where most mines are located, led to a series of ugly incidents and clashes with police.

Soldier dies in CÁceres forest fire

The Extremadura government believes the blaze was started intentionally

By David Eade

A MEMBER of the Unidad Militar de Emergencies died on Saturday afternoon in a forest fire in the Sierra de la Gata in Cáceres.

Corporal Alberto Guisado, 35, was fighting the blaze and perished whilst three other people from the same military unit were seriously injured.

They had been travelling in a UME heavy vehicle when it overturned and fell 300 metres down a slope. The cause of the accident is not known but it occurred at around 17.30 at an abrupt bend at the Cruz de Piedra on the Torre de Don Miguel road.

The Spanish Red Cross announced that the deceased soldier belonged to the Batallón de Intervención de Emergencias number one based at Torrejón de Ardoz in Madrid.

The purpose of the military group is to assist the civilian services in emergencies in Spain.

The UME had been fighting the blaze in the Sierra de la Gata which the previous night had required 300 people to be evacuated from a camping site. Seventy five of these people were temporarily housed overnight in a Cruz Roja refuge.

Algeciras shopping centre was terrorists' target

Three suspected al-Qaida members were arrested last week in La Línea and Ciudad Real

By David Eade

LA LÍNEA hit the international news headlines last Thursday when Cengiz Yalzin, living in the border town, was arrested after allegedly being identified as a member of an al-Qaida cell.

His was one of three related arrests. Eldar Megomedov and Mohamed Ankari Adamov were detained after a bus travelling to France was stopped at Ciudad Real. One of the two suspected terrorists on the bus offered stiff resistance to arrest. Both are Russian citizens from Chechnya.

High Court judge Pablo Ruíz has revealed that the two Chechans had tried to repeatedly make a paragliding flight during their stay in La Línea to supposedly take photographs of the Punta de Europa commercial centre in Algeciras. However they were told this would not be possible unless they had permission from Gibraltar to take to the skies as they would be interfering with aircraft using the Rock's airport.

They told the instructor that on the flight they would be carrying a kilo in additional weight which they explained would be a video camera. Authorities believe there was no camera but the weight would be explosives which they would drop on the shopping complex in an attack to coincide with the London Olympic Games.

Spain's Interior Minister, Jorge Fernández Díaz, stated that the group had sufficient explosives "to blow up a bus". He went on to say the arrests were a major success for the country's security forces against al-Qaida both at home and internationally and suggested that the detentions had ramifications for other countries.