Barcelona, Oct 29, 2019 (AFP) - Rescuers on Tuesday found the body of a man swept away last week by flash floods in Catalonia, purportedly while inside a mobile home, raising to four the number of people who died when storms lashed north-eastern Spain.
Torrential rains hit Catalonia last Tuesday night, sparking major flooding which left one person dead in a beach town north of Barcelona and another five missing in a badly-hit area inland from the coastal city of Tarragona. The Catalan Civil Protection service said the body had been "identified by police as the man who disappeared in Vilaverd when he was supposedly inside a mobile home", referring to a village on the Francoli river some 30 kilometres north of Tarragona. "The provisional toll (from the storms) now stands as four dead, all of whom have been identified, and three others still missing," rescuers wrote on Twitter.
The storm also lashed the island of Mallorca, where rescuers on Tuesday said they had found a body. But they could not immediately confirm whether it was one of two young people who were seen being swept away by a huge wave. Last week's flooding and landslides forced the closure of nearly 50 roads and halted train services, as well as forcing the diversion of 37 flights, mostly in Mallorca, officials said.
The first victim was a man found on October 22 in Caldes d'Estrac, north of Barcelona, while another man's body was found two days later at Tarragona port where the Francoli enters the sea. A third body, that of a homeless man, was found on Monday although he was not one of those listed as missing. Southern France was also hit by major flooding which left three people dead, one of them a British woman.
Date: Wed, 23 Oct 2019 23:18:23 +0200 (METDST)
Barcelona, Oct 23, 2019 (AFP) - One man died and another five people were missing Wednesday after a night of torrential rain triggered flash flooding in north-eastern Spain, cutting off roads and disrupting air travel, officials said. Police said they found a man's body late on Tuesday on the beach in Caldes d'Estrac, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Barcelona, while further south, rescuers were engaged in the hunt for five other people, all of whom disappeared in a badly-hit area inland from the coastal city of Tarragona. Aerial footage from the affected zone, which lies about 30 kilometres north of Tarragona, showed villages swamped by floodwaters and mud, with trees and even bridges swept away by the force of the water.
During the evening, regional police confirmed they were looking for a Belgian lorry driver whose empty vehicle had been found in the Francoli river, after earlier saying they were also hunting for two people, reportedly a woman and her adult son whose prefab home was swept away by floodwaters in Vilaverd. They were also looking for another two people whose empty car was found near l'Espluga de Francoli in the same area. Flooding and landslides forced the closure of nearly 50 roads and halted train services in the region, as well as forcing the diversion of 37 flights, most of them in Palma on the holiday island of Mallorca, regional transport authorities said. And nearly 25,000 homes across the region were left without power due to the high winds and heavy rain, although by mid-afternoon that number had fallen to 10,000, officials said.
As rescuers in Catalonia continued the search for those reported missing inland from the coastal city of Tarragona, the stormy weather shifted towards the Cantabria region on Spain's northern coast, forecasters said. The heavy rainfall also battered southern France, where roads were flooded, train services interrupted, and people evacuated from their homes. In the southwestern Beziers region, two metres of water fell in less than six hours -- the equivalent of two-and-a-half months worth of rain, Meteo France said, warning that gale-force winds raised the possibility of high waves swamping parts of the coastline.
The bad weather also shut down the rail lines from Montpelier and Toulouse in southern France and from Montpelier across the border into Spain, until at least November 4, French rail operator SNCF announced. Passengers who have bought tickets for journeys no longer available will be reimbursed within 60 days, SNCF added. In September, seven people died in storms and flooding following days of record rainfall in southeastern Spain. Last year, intense rain in Mallorca caused the deaths of 13 people as rivers burst their banks, flooding streets and sweeping away cars.
The Epidemiological Surveillance Network confirmed today [22 Oct 2019] 2 new cases of tularemia in the basic health area of Saldana and Jardinillos [Palencia, Castile and Leon], in addition to the 23 patients who are under investigation with symptoms similar to those of the disease. With these new positive environmental exposure cases without requiring hospitalization, the overall figure rises to 54 affected in the province, according to data provided by the Junta of Castile and Leon.
The Basic Health Zone of Paredes de Nava with 16 cases reported; Villarramiel with 9 cases, and Villada with 5 cases are the foci of greater incidence of the disease transmitted by voles. In addition, the health area of rural Palencia has reported 5 cases, while Eras del Bosque and Jardinillos, in the capital, have reported 2 case.
[The manifestations of tularemia are not stated and it would not be surprising if oropharyngeal tularemia is occurring as this outbreak, given its size, may be waterborne.
Outbreaks of water-transmitted tularemia include 64 cases in Dagestan, Russia associated with a flood-plain swamp (1), 49 cases in Tuscany, Italy linked to an unchlorinated water system (2), an outbreak in the Smolensk province of Russia also attributed to contamination of a water supply (3), improperly prepared water for washing in the Czech Republic (4), and a Swedish outbreak associated with a contaminated well used for drinking water (5). Additionally, during the period 1936 to 1963, there were approximately 30 outbreaks of water-borne tularemia reported from the then Soviet Union (6).
1. Tikhenko NI, Efremenko VI, Omarieva E, et al. [Outbreak of tularemia in the Republic of Dagestan]. Zh Mikrobiol Epidemiol Immunobiol. 2001; (6 Suppl):68-72; abstract available at
Date: Mon, 14 Oct 2019 16:33:26 +0200 (METDST) By Daniel BOSQUE
Barcelona, Oct 14, 2019 (AFP) - "I feel fury and a sense of powerlessness," said Joan Guich, a 19-year-old student protesting in Barcelona after Spain's Supreme Court jailed nine Catalan leaders jailed over a failed independence bid. "They have been convicted for an ideology which I agree with." Within minutes of the ruling demonstrators had poured onto the streets of the Catalan capital, waving flags and blocking traffic over the conviction of the separatist leaders who organised a 2017 referendum banned by Madrid. "We have to mobilise and stick up for them ... in a way that has an impact, closing airports, stations, but always avoiding violence," Guich said. "Or at least, it won't be us that provokes it."
Workers rallied outside their offices, university students walked out of classes and regional lawmakers demonstrated inside Catalonia's parliament, where most of the defendants had held a senior role. "Today is going to be historic, you can feel it in the atmosphere. Serious things are happening, we can't stay home," said Oscar Quiles, a 47-year-old real estate entrepreneur. News of the verdict reached him as he arrived at the office and he immediately called his mother to join him at a protest in Plaza Cataluna in the centre of Barcelona. By noon the square was packed with thousands of demonstrators, many waving yellow, red and blue Catalan separatist flags or banners reading "We would do it again" and "Freedom for political prisoners". The protesters then set off walking towards Barcelona's airport, Spain's second busiest, in the hope of blocking it, just as pro-democracy activists have done recently in Hong Kong.
- 'Weeks of mobilisation' - Tension gripped Barcelona on Monday morning ahead of the ruling, with a heavy police presence outside the courts, the airport and the city's main train station, as a helicopter flew overhead. Democratic Tsunami, a group advocating more active forms of civil disobedience, had urged demonstrators to hit the streets as soon as the verdicts were announced. "Tomorrow everyone ready! When the verdict is out, the response will be immediate," said the group in a message to its roughly 150,000 followers on mobile messaging service Telegram. Juli Cuellar, a 44-year-old office worker, said he believed the verdict was politically motivated. "Now all we have left is a life of civil and institutional disobedience," he told AFP, predicting "weeks of mobilisation". The Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Omnium Cultural, the region's two biggest grassroots pro-independence groups, have also called supporters to attend an evening rally. They have organised some of the largest separatist protests in recent years. Several more protests are scheduled over the next few days across Catalonia, as well as a general strike on Friday.
- 'Felt like crying' - Democratic Tsunami, the group that called the gathering in Plaza Cataluna, only emerged in recent weeks. It says it does not depend on Catalan separatist parties or civil associations for support. Its leaders remain unknown, keeping in touch with each other through encrypted messaging apps such as Wire. But supporters tend to be kept in the dark until the last minute. "We don't know exactly what we have to do," said Arnau Font, a 22-year-old shop assistant who took the week off to protest. "We have to get involved. Right now I feel really powerless in light of the verdicts," he told AFP. "When I found out, I felt like crying." The uncertainty was over a few minutes later when a Telegram message arrived urging everyone to "go to the airport", a 15-kilometre (nine-mile) walk from the city centre. "The time has come to make our voice felt around the world. The goal: stop the activity of Barcelona's airport," it said. Spain's airport operator Aena said no flights were disrupted, but many passengers got stuck in traffic jams leading to the airport.
Date: Mon, 30 Sep 2019 13:52:34 +0200 (METDST)
Madrid, Sept 30, 2019 (AFP) - Hundreds of hotels in Spain are facing imminent closure over the collapse of British travel giant Thomas Cook, the head of the Spanish hotel federation warned on Monday. "There are 500 hotels which are going to close immediately due to the collapse of Thomas Cook and the situation could get worse if the government doesn't take immediate action," Juan Molas, head of Spain's Confederation of Hotels and Tourist Accommodation, told business daily Cinco Dias.
And the sum in unpaid bills left by the demise of the tour operator would be much higher than the initial estimate of 200 million euros ($220 million), said Molas, whose organisation represents 15,000 businesses. "It will be much more. The amount for only eight chains is close to 100 million." Of those hotels facing immediate closure, 100 were exclusively dependent on Thomas Cook, he said, while the rest counted on the firm for between 30 and 70 percent of their clients. One hotel in Fuerteventura, the second largest of the Canary Islands, had recently undergone a 20-million-euro upgrade and was now faced with 700 rooms "which are going to be empty from October 7" and 200 employees it would be forced to dismiss. Worst hit are those in the Canaries and the Balearic Islands, where 40 percent of hotels are affected.
The industry has put together an emergency plan to be presented to Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto at the next Spanish tourism board meeting on October 7 which will also address the urgent question of air links with the Canary Islands. Industry experts fear the impact there could be even more devastating than elsewhere as the resort is very popular as a winter destination among tourists from northern Europe. "The busy season is starting and Thomas Cook had 30 percent of air capacity," Molas said, indicating the disappearance of the package holidaymaker could affect some 1.3 million airline seats, with Tenerife and Lanzarote particularly badly hit. He urged the government to contact RyanAir, one of the few carriers that flies there, to urge the budget airline "to reconsider" plans to close four bases in Spain, three of them in the Canaries, saying it was "critical" that the airline maintain its flights.