Photo: Javier Feo.
Updated 1pm: Arona Ayuntamiento has announced this lunchtime the cancellation tomorrow of all cultural activities throughout Arona due to the official day of mourning decreed this morning by the president of the Canaries. For Arona this means the municipal libary and study room in the Cultural Centre will be closed; workshops and courses run by the culture department will be suspended for the day, as well as music and dance school activities. Administrative activities, eg the SAC, will remain open. It is likely that this will be repeated in all municipalities in these islands since it is part of the regional Government’s decreed day of mourning.
Updated 17 April: Canarian president Fernando Clavijo has this morning declared a day of mourning tomorrow in the whole autnomous region as a mark of official condolence for those who died in the tragic Los Cristianos building collapse. The decree, which the president signed this morning, will be published tomorrow in the Boletín Oficial del Estado (BOE), and expresses the sympathy of the Government to the family and friends of the dead. Flags throughout the Canaries will fly at half mast tomorrow.
Updated 8.30pm: Arona mayor Mena says this evening that three of the dead have been identified. They are Flor González González, a 70-year-old Asturian woman; Antonio García Beltrán, a Los Cristianos native of around 50 years old; and the third is also Spanish but the name has not been released. There remain four still to be identified, two women and two men who are thought to be two Italians, a Finn and a Moroccan.
The mayor says that work will continue again overnight tonight to secure the site, and for the foreseeable future. The security cordon will remain in place for logistical reasons, and surrounding roads will stay closed. The council is looking at how soon those who have been evacuated, around 65 people, can return home safely from the accommodation the council has provided for them. There are also seven members of the victims’ families, the council’s own coordinators of the rescue operations, and 16 bomberos from Gran Canaria and Lanzarote, being put up by the council.
The mayor said that it was quite natural that with a situation like this, it will be a while before things can be got back to normal, and again expressed his deepest thanks for all involved in the operation, and their “inestimable help and cooperation”.
Updated 8.15pm: Tenerife president Carlos Alonso has said that with the discovery of the seventh body, the rescue and recovery part of the operation concerned with the collapsed building has come to a close. President Alonso expressed his sympathy for all those affected and all those who took part in the traumatic efforts, and said that from now on, the works become a clearance operation. The forensic work of identifying the bodies, none of which has been identified so far, is now crucial, said the president, and will be carried out as soon and with as much certainty as possible. The president thanked the rescue teams who have worked tirelessly, which include the army’s emergencies unit and bomberos from Tenerife, and from Gran Canaria and Lanzarote as well.
Arona Ayuntamiento said in a press conference this evening that the four adjoining buildings remain evacuated while the site is secured and confirmed safe. Those who have been evacuated remain in local hotels and camping areas. No other bodies are expected to be found in the rubble of the collapsed building. The incident room continues to provide support and assistance at the Cultural Centre in Los Cristianos, and the information line 010/922 761 600 remains open. The coordination centre for the continuing operations is in the Policía Local station behind the Cultural Centre: those present include the Ayuntamiento’s security coordinator, municipal technicians, the Canarian Government’s and Cabildo’s Dirección General de Seguridad y Emergencias.
The Ayuntamiento says that now it remains to support those families affected, to find homes for those who cannot return to their dwellings, and to ascertain the causes and responsibilities of the collapse of the building.
Updated 7.30pm: A seventh body was found around 6.45pm, that of a man who has just been brought out of the rubble after his body was located by sniffer dogs shortly after lunchtime today. This completes the total of those who were thought to have been inside the building when it collapsed. There will be a further press conference by Arona Ayuntamiento very shortly about how the rescue and recovery works will proceed from this point, and no doubt at this stage eyes will turn to responsibilities and causes for the collapse.
Updated 11am: Another body, of a woman, was recovered an hour ago by bomberos and the army emergencies unit. There are now six dead, four women and two men. One other person is still unaccounted for.
Updated 16 April: Emergency services say that a man’s body was discovered in the rubble around 5am this morning. This brings the fatalities to five, with two thought to have been in the building still unaccounted for. The two injured are still in hospital, and the search and rescue operations continue today.
Updated 11.30pm: Sadly tonight has seen the death toll double with the recovery of two more bodies, a man and woman. The two reported previously as injured remain in hospital with their injuries, neither of which are in life-threatening condition. Work continues overnight again tonight, with additional heavy machinery brought in to stabilize a part of the structure that had become unstable so as to allow search and rescue teams to carry on with their work, the main thing being the search for the three people still unaccounted for.
Updated 4.45pm: Tenerife president Carlos Alonso has also declared three days of official mourning throughout Tenerife. The island president thanked King Felipe and Queen Letizia for their concern over the tragedy, and expressed his gratitude to those engaged in the search and rescue operation.
Updated 4pm: Arona mayor José Julián Mena has decreed three days of mourning in Arona municipality as a mark of official sympathy and respect following the shocking tragedy of the collapse of the building at 12 Calle Amalia Alayón/Calle Valle Menéndez. The days of official mourning will last from midnight tonight to midnight 18/19 April, and will involve flags flown at half mast on municipal buildings which will be decked with crepe on the inside. All official events and acts organized by Arona Ayuntamiento will be suspended for the period. A minute’s silence will also be observed at any sports events which are held.
The mayor expressed his condolences in the name of the Ayuntamiento to all the families affected by the tragedy, and his gratitude to the people of the borough for their collaboration and solidarity. He also thanked all the forces and organizations involved in the incident and the ongoing operation to secure and locate anyone in the building’s remains, namely the Canarian government, the Tenerife Cabildo, all the security and emergency forces which are participating, the National Police in Playa de Las Américas, Arona Policía Local, the army’s Emergencies Unit, the Guardia Civil’s Dog units, AEA (Ayuda en Emergencias Anaga), SUC ambulance service, Bomberos de Tenerife, Cruz Roja (personnel and ambulances), GES Search and Rescue service, Protección Civil de Arona, psychologists, social workers, translators and the press.
Updated 2.30pm: Four of the people unaccounted for have been located elsewhere, so the number “missing” and who are thought to have been in the building is now reduced to five. The number of injured is also reduced from three to two because the third only suffered minor cuts and bruises and was treated for shock. And so, the latest toll is: two dead, two injured, five unaccounted for.
Updated 12.30pm: Emergency services say that there are some 150 personnel on site involved in securing the collapsed building, and searching for those trapped inside both with machinery and with sniffer dogs of the army unit. As of noon, the confirmed toll is as of this morning: two dead, three injured, nine unaccounted for: 89 people from 42 families are in temporary accommodation. These works will go on for days yet, the authorities say.
Updated 10.30am: Arona Ayuntamiento has confirmed that the council’s help and information line for anyone concerned or affected will remain in place today. Call 010 from within the municipality, or 922 761 600 from outside.
Updated 15 April: Sadly, the night’s work unveiled a second fatality, that of a middle-aged woman, whose body was recovered by bomberos at 5.15am. The toll is now two deaths, three injured, nine still missing. This is the image just before first light this morning of the ongoing rescue and recovery works.
Updated 10.30pm: Probably the last update from the authorities tonight. The Ayuntamiento says that two more people have been added to those known to be missing, and so there are 10 now being sought in the rubble. The information only became known tonight around 10pm thanks to coordination between relatives of those affected and family assistance services in the incident room in the Cultural Centre. All other information remains the same, and the dead woman has still not been identified. This is the scene at present as crews prepare to work through the night.
Updated 9pm: Arona Ayuntamiento says that there is no new information, and that there is no confirmation of a reported second body. The confirmed figures, once again, are that of the 28 occupants of the building, 19 are accounted for, including the 3 who were injured, 1 has died, and 8 remain missing. Reports that 9 are missing include the body found because this poor person has not yet been identified. The 34 occupants of Edificios Bruno, Linares, Chicharro and Porlamar have been accommodated in hotels and camping sites in Arona municipality. Anyone else who needs assistance should go to the incident room at Los Cristianos Cultural Centre, or call 010 (inside Arona) or 922 761 600 (from outside). Rescue and recovery works will continue through the night.
Updated 7pm: Arona Ayuntamiento says that the building had 28 occupants, and that 19 have been accounted for. The body of one of the 9 missing was discovered earlier, and rescue and recovery works continue for the 8 who remain unaccounted for. These works will continue through the night, for which reason main lighting and heavy machinery has been brought in.
Four adjoining buildings – Bruno, Linares, Chicharro, and Porlamar – have been evacuated while assessments as to their structural security are carried out. The council asks anyone who has been evacuated to go to the Cultural Centre where arrangements for their accommodation are being coordinated, and where an incident room has been set up.
Ten psychologists have been allocated to families of those affected by the collapse of the building, and tens more are available through the incident room. An information line has been set up for anyone concerned or with problems caused by the incident: call 010 from within the municipality of Arona, or 922 761 600 if outside. More information will be released as and when it becomes available.
Updated 6.10pm: Emergency services have confirmed, sadly, that they have recovered a woman’s body from the collapsed building. Emergency teams are at the scene, continuing rescue and recovery works.
Updated 6pm: Adeje Ayuntamiento has expressed its support for Arona in the most practical ways, with mayor Fraga going to meet mayor Mena in Los Cristianos, and putting any and all Adeje resources necessary at Arona’s disposal, and coordinating the ongoing rescue works. As I said previously, fatalities are feared, but as at 6pm, there is no change in the numbers of injured, and no confirmation of any fatalities despite repeated reports in various media.
Updated 3pm: A few more official details about the only three people confirmed affected at present. The 57-year-old woman’s serious injures are to her upper arm. She is not critical, and is in Hospiten Sur. The man is a 28-year-old Italian who has a minor shoulder injury. He too was taken to Hospiten Sur. Finally, the woman with “cuts and bruises” is 55 years old, and was treated at the scene for shock. There will be another press conference at 5pm.
Involved in the ongoing rescue operation are:
Cuerpo Nacional de Policía Playa de Las Américas
Policía Local de Arona
Policía Local de Adeje
Unidad Militar de Emergencias
Unidad Canina de la Guardia Civil
Unidad Canina de AEA
Servicio de Urgencias Canario
Bomberos de Tenerife
Protección Civil de Arona
Dirección General de Seguridad y Emergencias del Gobierno de Canarias
Cabildo de Tenerife
Ayuntamiento de Arona
Updated 2.30pm: Arona Mayor Mena has called for calm after speculation about numbers of dead and injured have been spread and caused serious distress. The mayor said that there will be another press conference soon to confirm the latest situation but that the speculation should be ignored. Earlier reports of a gas explosion are now being discounted by the authorities, with attention for a possible cause focusing on repairs that were being carried out in the old Banesto branch on the first floor (ground floor of Calle Amalia Alayaon).
Updated 1.15pm: Arona Ayuntamiento has closed Los Cristianos Cultural Centre and cancelled all municipal activities that were scheduled in it. Also closed is the Auditorio Infanta Leonor. Tbe council asks the public to avoid the area and to cooperate as much as possible with security services. Fatalities are feared, though the confirmed information at the moment is the three injured announced previously. Nine others are “missing”.
Updated 11.45am: Arona Ayuntamiento will be holding a press conference shortly when more information might become available. As of three minutes ago, emergency services say that the only confirmed casualties are a 57-year-old woman critically injured, a man with non-serious injuries, and a woman with just cuts and bruises. The Military Emergencies Unit is now also on site to assist with rescue works.
Original post 14 April: Part of a building near the Cultural Centre in Los Cristianos collapsed at 9.30am this morning. The building, which contains the Supermercado Asiatico (oriental supermarket), is in Calle del Valle Menéndez, the lower road from the underground car park to the back of the cultural centre. A whole range of emergency services – SUC, Bomberos, Policía Local, Guardia Civil, Protección Civil, GES Tierra, Perros de Rescate de AEA and Cruz Roja – are at the scene as of 10.00am, and it is thought that there are people trapped inside the collapsed structure. The reason for the collapse is obviously still unclear, but there were works being carried out in an office in the building. Police are currently evacuating adjoining buildings.