Extreme recklessness and a lack of security caused the tragedy in Castelldefels which left 13 dead and 14 injured (read article in Castillian here, El Periodico)
It was an old and rash custom to cross the train tracks which took the lives of 13 young people on the night of Sant Joan; a night which went from revelry to tragedy in several short seconds. The accident happened at 23.23 on Wednesday, 90 minutes after the last station employee had left and 7 minutes before 12 security guards were due to arrive. Impatient, irresponsible and confused by a fenced off overhead walkway (closed due to building work), dozens of people risked death by crossing the tracks. 13 of them were killed by an Alaris train, travelling at 138 kilometres per hour (86 mph), which according to many reports, came out of nowhere in darkness. Another 14 people were injured, three of them seriously.
After a long night, horror has given way to questions. How could this have happened? What went wrong? How could it have been avoided? Could something more have been done? One reply is getting louder: there could have been security at the station. Of course, it was a personal decision to cross the tracks. They ignored the only valid exit from the platform, the new underground tunnel. The president of the Generalitat, José Montilla and the Minister for Public Works, José Blanco, described the main cause of the accident as “imprudence”. The victims were almost exclusively young South Amercians from Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. Most witnesses have said that there was confusion that the old overhead walkway, which has been in use for decades, was closed and fenced off. Many people weren’t used to using the new underground walkway at the other end of the platform and opted to cross the tracks instead. Others wanted to avoid the huge crowd that was gathering at the entrance to the tunnel. ERC town councillor in the town council of Castelldefells said in November, just after work on the underground walkway was finished that it could become a ´mousehole´ during busy times like Sant Joan. Constructors Adif said that the tunnel was “secure and of sufficient capacity”. However, Barcelona´s consul to Ecuador, Freddy Arellana, spoke of the lack of preparation for the crowds and criticised the Generalitat for blaming the tragedy on recklessness. “We have to wait for the results of the investigation” he said. The families of those who hadn’t returned home after Sant Joan had a desperate wait yesterday for news. Fire-fighters and forensic experts were working to collect the remains of the victims. Due to the force of the impact, the majority of the bodies were horribly mutilated. Trains are still not running along the route. The bodies have been moved to the Instituto de Medicina Legal in the Ciutat de la Justícia of L'Hospitalet to be identified.
The possibility of taking a long weekend meant that the beaches were quieter than in recent years (read it in Castillian here, El Periodico). The Castelldefels tragedy means that even talking about one of the quietest Sant Joan nights in living memory seems trivial. As always, there was a huge police presence, lots of drinking on the beach, small incidents and an enormous amount of uncollected rubbish. Around 75,000 people, 7,000 less than in 2009, spent the night of Sant Joan on the beach, above all at Nova Icària, Bogatell, Sant Sebastià and Barceloneta. The 300 cardboard bins installed for the occasion weren’t enough. At 2,30am they were overflowing and the 275 chemical toilets were in constant use but many men were opting for hiding behind posts or drawing pictures in the sand. 501 police officiers patrolled the streets and beaches and 7.500 alcoholic drinks destined for sale on the street were seized (half the figure of 2009). 13 drivers tested positive for excessive alcohol out of 169 breath tests. 12 people were arrested for violent crime. At 6am, police started to clear the beaches so the cleaning teams could get to work. By 10am veteran sunbathers were back at Barceloneta and Sant Martí for their morning dip.
Catalunya has created a web search tool to find victims of the Civil War (read it in Castillian here, El Pais)It’s taken 25 years for a team of researchers at the Centro de Historia Contemporánea de Cataluña to create a database of those killed during the Civil War. The result is a search tool, called The Human Cost of the Civil War, which was presented yesterday by the Vice President of the Generalitat, Josep Lluís Carod Rovira. It contains the details of 40,000 of those who were killed and 30,000 more will be added. The page, which can be accessed via the Generalitat’s page, means that you can find details of victims from either side. Information includes full names, civil status, place and cause of death and information on the family. More than 170 researchers, using both documents and verbal testimony,have collaborated on the project.