News August 2003

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Fire and Heat update - Five dead in fire, 30 from heat

12/13/14 August. Five people died on 11th August attempting to escape from a major fire, which continues uncontrolled, in St. Llorenç Savall in Catalonia. Update: another fire close by, at Gallifa, has now joined up and over 5,000 hectares have burnt. A significant part of the area burnt is within the Montserrat National Park. Montserrat is Catalonia's Holy Mountain a jagged range home to the black madonna which many Catalan people pray to. Many Catalan women also bear her name, such as singer Montserrat Caballé.

13th August, Sabadell: over 1,000 perople attended the funeral of the five who so tragically died in the fire the other day. Sabadell is a largish industrial town (200.000) close to Barcelona. It has nine churches. A fire fighter also died as a fire engine crashed close to Lleida, Catalonia, on its way to another fire. Five remain in hospital, two with serious injuries.

14 August. Another fire in Catalonia forced 3,000 people to leave their homes over night. That fire is now 'under control' and the people can return. The St. Llorens fire remains partly out of control, having crossed the fire breaks which had been set.

Many other fires are burning across Spain.The total area burnt this month in Spain is now 36,000 hectares, whereas the area for the first seven months of the year was just 27,000.

Meanwhile, the number of people who have died due to the heat has increased to 30.

While, perhaps the difference to other summers is that the current heat wave has extended to most of Europe, the duration of the high temperatures is more noticeable in Spain and other southern countries. It is expected that temperatures will begin to fall at the weekend, as they have already begun to do further north in Europe, for example.

Sources El Mundo, RNE, EFE