The forest fire that has burnt more than 300 hectares of land in La Riba in Tarragona has been brought under control this morning (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). More than 90 teams of firefighters have worked throughout the night to deal with the fire, while two warehouses of a paper company had to be cleared along with another company's premises, and people were evacuated from nearby housing estates and summer camps. The Generalitat's emergency plan to deal with such fires was deactivated at 7am, thanks to the actions of the firefighters to bring it under control and because a nearby chemical company, Alcover Química SA, was deemed to be out of danger. The high-speed AVE train service between Lleida and the Camp de Tarragona was temporarily halted due to the forest fire, as well as the normal train line between Montblanc and La Plana. The alarm was raised about the fire around 2pm yesterday, and also resulted in the closure of several local roads.
The Generalitat yesterday finalised a deal whereby Catalunya will have a significant role in the running of El Prat airport, with the guarantee that five members of the new board will be Catalans (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). This was the pact reached yesterday in Madrid by the bilateral commission of the Spanish and Catalan governments; amongst other issues that were raised by the commission were those of grants and the transfer of 150 buildings belonging to the Social Security department. "We feel moderately satisfied," said Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, the president of the Generalitat's representation and spokesperson for the governing Convergència i Unió party in the Spanish congress. Sources from the central government admitted that actually putting some of the agreements made yesterday into practice would depend on whether or not there will be Spanish general elections in the autumn, a matter that Duran i Lleida preferred not to comment on when leaving the meeting: "I wouldn't speculate on the calendar for the elections because we can all make mistakes," he said. However, it appears that the pact regarding the Barcelona airport will stand no matter what happens with the Spanish elections. While four members of the board will be selected by the airport management company AENA, of the other five, two will be nominated by the Generalitat, one by Barcelona city council, and one by the municipalities of El Prat, Sant Boi and Viladecans; the fifth position will be filled by someone from the public. The Generalitat will not be in charge of the infrastructure of the airport, however, which will be put into private hands.
Catalan police have arrested in Barcelona the Albanian citizen Dritan Rexhepi, 31, one of the most dangerous criminals in Europe, according to Interpol (read article in Catalan here, Avui). Escaped from an Italian prison, Rexhepi was sought by police from his home country for a double murder and by Belgian police, accused of various violent crimes. Having committed multiple robberies across Europe, Rexhepi had become the leader of a gang of Albanian thieves located in Catalunya and specialised in robberies where the modus operandi was to make holes in the walls or ceilings of buildings they wanted to burgle, which were generally banks. The band, made up of nine people, all thought to be from the same Albanian city, had carried out at least 16 robberies in the area in and around Barcelona, all following the same, organised pattern. The police investigation that ended with yesterday's arrest started in June, following the gang's robbery of €60,000 from a bank in Castelldefels, which they entered through making a hole in the building's wall.