Monday 24 April 2017

The second it took to stroke a dog cost youngest quake victim his life

Fiona Govan in Lorca

A 12-year-old boy who stepped outside his grandfather's bar to stroke his dog at the moment that Spain's worst earthquake in 50 years struck was mourned by residents of the devastated town of Lorca yesterday.

Raul Guerrero Molina, the youngest of the quake's nine victims, was crushed when a slab of masonry plummeted from the top of the four-storey building in the La Vina district near the town centre.

As he lay dying beside his dog, his mother, Sonia, rushed out from the bar and was hit by a cascade of falling bricks. She was seriously injured but survived and is recovering in hospital.

A drinker inside the bar described the moment Raul was killed. "We heard the mother screaming, 'Help me, help me'," said the man, called Cecilio. "But nothing could be done for the son."

Neighbours spoke of their shock at the family's loss. Ana Minarro, a 36-year-old pharmacist who lives opposite the bar, said: "Everyone knew him, we watched him grow up into a good kid. But just like that our world was shaken up and his life ended."

Dried blood could still be seen at the door of the bar. Beside it were two cars, warped and flattened beneath piles of rubble. Pavements were hidden beneath fallen terrace walls, twisted television aerials and shattered glass. Holes were punched into the side of houses, and on one residential street a three-storey building had collapsed.

Scenes of destruction were spread throughout the town in Murcia after two earthquakes struck within two hours. The second, of 5.2 magnitude, came at shortly before 7pm on Tuesday and caused most of the damage.

The death toll rose to nine yesterday when a woman died of her injuries. Authorities confirmed more than 270 people had been treated for injuries.

Crushed

Among the victims were two pregnant women, named as Juana Canales and Emilia Moreno, who were killed by falling masonry, and another woman was crushed to death when the wall of a building collapsed. Her two children were pulled out by rescuers from beneath her, injured but alive.

Tens of thousands have been left homeless because their properties were declared unsafe and camps have been set up in three parks in town to try to accommodate them.

Francisco Jodar, the mayor of Lorca, which has a population of about 90,000, said that about four-fifths of the town's buildings had suffered damage. "It looks like 10pc have structural damage, making them unsafe even to enter," he said.

Architects, surveyors and civil engineers joined military emergency response units in going from building to building to assess damage. Once checked, the properties were marked with coloured circles: green if safe to enter, red if dangerous and yellow if safe enough for residents to collect belongings.

Questions were being asked why buildings constructed in the last decade had suffered so much damage, in an area known for low-level quakes.

"It's a question of bad luck," Mr Jodar said. "The epicentre was too close and it was near the surface so really we didn't stand a chance." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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