Thousands of people have slept in the open in the Murcian town of Lorca falling yesterday's two earthquakes that killed eight people and injured scores more (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The earthquakes struck in the afternoon and emergency services attended to 167 people injured by the incident, three of whom were seriously hurt. Amongst those confirmed dead are two pregnant women and a boy of 14 years. Spanish science minister Cristina Garmendia visited the town early this morning and went to the affected areas with local council members; other politicians due to visit the area today include deputy president Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, defence minister Carme Chacón and opposition leader, Mariano Rajoy. While those with serious injuries are being treated in a local hospital, 350 ambulances have been used to move around 400 patients from two other hospitals in the area to different medical centres as a pre-emptive measure. More than 200 volunteers from the Civil Protection department helped in rescue efforts and with those affected by the double earthquake, distributing blankets, amongst other actions.
Inflation in Spain rose again last month bringing the current annual rate to 3.8 percent (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Inflation went up by 1.2 percent in April compared to March, which is in line with the forecast issued at the end of last month; the reason behind the increase is being attributed to the rising prices of food and non-alcoholic drinks as well as the cost of going out and attending cultural events. This is the highest level of inflation recorded in Spain since September 2008, when it was 4.5 percent.
With the proposed budget cuts of the Generalitat emerging as one of the main subjects of this month's municipal election campaign, opposition parties in the Catalan parliament have called on people to join the demonstration organised for this Saturday in protest against the cuts (read article in Catalan here, Avui). The demo has been called by various trade unions, but CiU's opposition are planning to politicise the event and hope to gain electoral leverage from it to help them in the council elections taking place the following week; in turn, CiU will seek to defend the decisions of Artur Mas's government and defuse the impact of the protest. Such demonstrations during an electoral campaign are not very typical and this means the consequences of the event are unpredictable. However, some mayoral candidates for CiU are eyeing Saturday's event with concern, worried about the effect that it could have on their chances of being elected. While officially CiU supports people's rights to protest, some within the party have been quietly complaining about the timing of the event. The response of CiU to criticisms of its policy of budget cuts has been to focus the blame on the previous Generalitat coalition government.