La Gomera President confirms no trapped survivors nor victims as landslide clearance works start in earnest

Updated 16 November: La Gomera President Casimiro Curbelo has confirmed this morning that there are no victims or trapped survivors under the rubble of the landslide. With this miraculous escape, works can now turn to the clear-up operation which will not be an easy task but will be far easier work psychologically without the pressure of time to rescue people or recover bodies. Curbelo said that the main task will be to study the causes of the rockfall, and the creation of a temporary harbour and access roads. Hard work remains, said the President, but it will be done with lighter hearts than it could have been.

Updated 2pm, 15/11: Some very heavy machinery has been brought in through Vueltas harbour to start to excavate the rockfall, and the La Gomera Cabildo has said that the first priority is to stabilize the slope … as well as seeking alternative routes to the blocked road. Mercifully, however, the authorities are beginning to be confident that there is no-one trapped under the fallen landslide: they haven’t confirmed the fact yet but they’re clearly thinking it, something of a miracle when you look at the following video of the site itself, and you can see how small the blue camper van itself looks in the images.

Updated 15 November: Work continues this morning in Valle Gran Rey to search for possible victims of the major landslide yesterday between the little harbour at Vueltas and Playa de Argaga. There is no news yet about any discoveries, nor confirmation that no-one was buried under the rubble. The rescue and recovery dog units taken over last evening are involved in the search today.

Updated 7pm, 14/11: Fred Olsen Express again steps up to the plate, sending its Benchijigua Express right now from Los Cristianos with two dog rescue units … they are fearing they will need them. Canarian President Torres is actively engaged with the La Gomera Cabildo, and Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez himself has said that he has seen the shocking images of the rockfall and is keeping up to date with the evolution of the rescue/recovery operation and the emergency services works. As the PM says, let’s hope for good news and that no-one is actually trapped. 

Updated 6pm, 14/11: It seems possible that some people are trapped under the rockfall because cars and camper vans can clearly be seen on the road running along the coast at the base of the landslip. The Tenerife Cabildo has joined the effort that we hope will be just a clear-up but could be a rescue … at least we must hope it won’t be a “recovery” operation in what are currently terrible scenes from La Gomera. Our island Cabildo has said that it has sent both Cruz Roja and Teide National Park rescue teams over to give what help they can.  

Original post 14 November: Many will remember the horrendous rockfall in 2009 which killed two women, and today another very similar event has occurred in La Gomera. At present it’s not known if anyone was affected but the pictures are pretty horrific, as can be imagined from the videos below of the incident. Emergency services say that the large landslide was in the Argaga area of en Vallehermoso, and they resources on site at present include two Gobcan helicopters, Guardia Civil, Policia Local, Valle Gran Reye volunteer Bomberos, Protección Civil, AEA, and personnel from Valle Gran Rey and Vallehermoso Ayuntamientos. Meanwhile the Vueltas to Argaga road has been closed while rescue/recovery works continue.

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