Sunday 22 April 2018

Irish boy (5) suffers broken leg during Barcelona terror attack

The van that ploughed into the crowd, killing at least 13 people and injuring around 100 others is towed away from the Rambla in Barcelona. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
The van that ploughed into the crowd, killing at least 13 people and injuring around 100 others is towed away from the Rambla in Barcelona. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Kathy Armstrong and Alan O'Keeffe

An Irish family injured in the Barcelona terror attack were in Spain to celebrate their son's birthday.

Norman and Pederlita Putot - who were born in the Philippines but are naturalised Irish citizens and their children Nathaniel and Pearl, who were born in Ireland, were caught up in the terrifying attack.

Mr Putot suffered leg injuries and Nathaniel (5) broke his leg during Thursday's attack, they are still in hospital but their injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.

Mrs Putot and Pearl were uninjured in the attack.

At least 13 people were killed and over 100 were hurt when a white van ploughed into pedestrians in the busy Las Ramblas area of the Spanish city.

The driver fled the scene but police have confirmed that two people were arrested in connection with the attack and a second attacker has reportedly been killed in a shoot-out.

Dr Emmanuel Fernandez, Consul General of the Embassy of the Philippines in Madrid, gave an update on the Irish citizens aught up in the incident.

Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTE Radio One, he said: "The father and son are in hospital still.

"The boy has a knee injury and he may need an operation.

"The others are okay, the mother of the family and their daughter were not injured.

Martin and Sharon Kane
Martin and Sharon Kane

"They are tourists who had come from Ireland to celebrate their son's birthday but obviously that didn't happen."

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney told RTE Radio this morning that one of the children - a five-year-old boy - had a broken femur.

Mr Coveney added that it was "a miracle" that no other Irish have so far been confirmed as having been caught up in the incident, and added that there was no travel warning issued for Spain.

He said: "But in a way it's a miracle that more Irish people weren't involved, given that there are so many Irish people in Spain, Barcelona and Cambrils at this time of year."

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said that there may be further Irish casualties.

A newlywed Northern Irish couple who were enjoying their honeymoon in Barcelona and have spoken about the "chaos" after the attack.

Martin (53) and Sharon (48) Kane had been on a coach tour of Barcelona yesterday afternoon. The coach was about to reach its last stop when they realised something was wrong.

"The driver came around to us all panicky," Martin explained.

"He said, 'The police have cordoned off Las Ramblas - if you want to go down there, you go down at your own risk'."

Members of the NYPD Counterterrorism Unit stand guard in Time Square as security is increased as a result of a attack in Barcelona, Spain earlier on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, at in New York. (AP Photo/Michael Noble Jr.)
Members of the NYPD Counterterrorism Unit stand guard in Time Square as security is increased as a result of a attack in Barcelona, Spain earlier on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, at in New York. (AP Photo/Michael Noble Jr.)

The couple got off the coach and were walking down the street towards their hotel when police started to push them back.

"We were panicking. We didn't know how to get back to our hotel," he said.

"The next minute everyone started running. One girl slipped and fell on her face in the chaos.

"People were screaming and crying. It was a stampede. Then the sirens began.

"We just ran into the nearest hotel - there were no taxis, nothing.

"Nobody was helping us, nobody was telling us what was going on.

"We were all panicking. My wife was crying her eyes out."

An Irish man living in Barcelona said he is shaken following the attack.

Aidan McGovern originally from Carrigaline, Co Cork owns a gallery in the Spanish city centre. He told Independent.ie that the attack has left him shaken.

"I'm pretty shook up and taken aback. I'm close to the area. It's very scary.

"A buddy of mine saw the van plough through the crowd and get out of the van running. It's pretty grim here right now."

Dublin-based journalist Alana Fearon was spending time in Barcelona and was due to fly home that evening when the attack happened.

Irish President Michael D Higgins
Irish President Michael D Higgins

The Armagh native told RTE: "We started to get really, really panicked," she said.

"All of a sudden a police car came up with police shouting through a megaphone: 'Indoors, indoors'.

"All I can see is cordons, sirens, police, helicopters."

Read More: Terror attacks: Vehicles increasingly used as weapons by terrorists

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has offered his condolences to those affected "at this time of immense grief."
He said: "An attack of this nature, targeting the people of Barcelona and visitors enjoying that wonderful city in the height of the tourist season, is both wanton and cowardly and has no place in our society.

"At this time of immense grief, I want to offer our solidarity and support to the people of Spain, with whom we have such close relations."

President Michael D Higgins also condemned the attacks.

A heavily armed policeman guides survivors away from the scene. Photo: Reuters
A heavily armed policeman guides survivors away from the scene. Photo: Reuters

He said: "Barcelona has a long history of hospitality and has over the years received so many people from around the world.

"As President of Ireland, I want to send the people of this great and welcoming city not only our sympathy but also the solidarity of the people of Ireland."

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has expressed his solidarity with the victims.

He said: "On behalf of the Irish Government, I wish to convey our condolences and solidarity with the people of Spain at this time."

An injured person is carried in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists and injuring several people, police said. (AP Photo/Oriol Duran)
An injured person is carried in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists and injuring several people, police said. (AP Photo/Oriol Duran)

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan described it as an unspeakable act of terrorism and vowed that gardai would liaise closely with Spanish counterparts.

"It is clear that the intention of those who carried out this appalling, evil act was to kill, wound and terrorise innocent people enjoying the freedoms we share and cherish," he said.

"Our thoughts are with the victims and their families."

The Spanish authorities said that one of the two men arrested was Moroccan and the other was from the Spanish enclave of Melilla in North Africa. They were arrested in two different towns in the region of Catalonia, Ripoll and Alcanar.

One of the arrested men was named as Driss Oukabir. He is suspected of renting the van, but later denied involvement and reportedly said his documents had been stolen.

Islamic State have now claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the group's Amaq news agency.

Meanwhile, four suspected attackers have been shot dead and another injured by Spanish police in a second attack to hit Catalonia.

Seven people were reportedly injured in the coastal town of Cambrils when a group, said to be wearing "explosive belts", launched a van attack similar to the incident in Barcelona.

Catalan emergency services said six civilians and a police officer had been injured in the attack.

Read More: Barcelona attack: Five suspects wearing bomb belts shot dead in Cambrils hours after Las Ramblas rampage

The Irish are among people from at least 24 countries who were killed or injured in the attacks.

French authorities confirmed that 26 of their citizens were injured and 11 of these are in a serious condition.

Three Germans and one Belgian person were among those killed.

It's also been confirmed that three Dutch people, an American person and a citizen of Hong Kong were all injured in the incident.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that two women are in a serious but stable condition, while two other men sustained minor injuries.

Ms Bishop said that one Australian person is still missing.

Three Greek nationals - a mother and her two children - are said to have been hurt.

Read More: Explainer: What we know so far about Barcelona terror attack

Spanish newspaper El Pais reported that an explosion on Wednesday night in Alcanar, 120 miles south of Barcelona, is now believed to be connected to Thursday's attack.

At the time police thought it was a gas explosion. The house was destroyed, with six people injured and one dead.

Inside the house, which police believe was occupied for a few months, they found around 20 canisters of butane and propane gas.

A woman was found dead inside and a man, discovered among the rubble, was taken to hospital in a critical condition.

The explosion could be heard for several miles.

Irish citizens in the vicinity of the incident are advised to follow the advice of local authorities.

Anyone with concerns for the safety of loved ones in Barcelona can contact the Consular Assistance team in the Department on 01-4082000 or the Irish Embassy in Madrid on +34 914364093.4

People flee from the scene after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district of Barcelona, Spain, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017. According to witnesses the white van swerved from side to side as it plowed into tourists and residents. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
People flee from the scene after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district of Barcelona, Spain, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017. According to witnesses the white van swerved from side to side as it plowed into tourists and residents. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

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