Hopes fade for missing men in ETA airport bombing
2 January 2007, MADRID — Searchers continued hunting for two Ecuadorians who disappeared in the ETA bombing of Madria airport though hopes were fading on Tuesday they would be found alive.
2 January 2007
MADRID — Searchers continued hunting for two Ecuadorians who disappeared in the ETA bombing of Madria airport though hopes were fading on Tuesday they would be found alive.
Family members of the men visited the bombsite together with Spanish interior minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba.
If Diego Armando Estacio, 19, and Carlos Alonso Palate, 34, have been killed they will become the first victims of the Basque separatist organisation since May 2003.
Rubalcaba said that rescue teams will intensify the search in the airport parking lot where, according to the relatives, the vehicles of the two missing Ecuadorians were when the bomb exploded.
The teams working to clear away the rubble in the Barajas Terminal 4 carpark building continued digging Monday without yet finding signs of the two Ecuadorians.
While firefighters worked with the aid of cutting machines and earth-moving equipment, police officers periodically took samples from the rubble removed, to be analyzed to see if they are of any use to the investigation.
At night the search was aided with powerful spotlights illuminating a big hole blasted out of the wall and a smaller space where the four crumbled floors of the airport's destroyed carpark building could be observed.
The work was only interrupted to listen to the traditional ringing in of the New Year with 12 tolls of the bell, but the search teams decided not to make the usual toast out of respect for the two missing Ecuadorians.
Investigators told Efe, meanwhile, that the terrorists parked the van containing the bomb at Barajas on 29 December, the day before the explosion and two days after three hooded men abducted its owner in France.
Videos from airport security cameras showed that the car-bomb, a Renault Trafic van, entered the airport shortly after 6:50 p.m. (1750 GMT) on Friday, investigators said.
Due to problems with the computer systems, investigators have not been able to determine how many people were in the van and were only able to observe a hand on the driver's side taking a ticket at the entrance to the parking lot.
One possibility being considered is that a traveling commando group coming from France was responsible for the assault and, after placing the car-bomb, when back north across the border.
The explosion, which was heard from several miles away and sent a giant column of black smoke into the air, destroyed several stories of the Terminal 4 parking lot and some medical-service offices.
It also damaged the terminal's arrival lounge and forced hundreds of passengers to be temporarily relocated onto runways.
About 20 people were wounded in the attack.
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said after the bombing "today we're much worse off than yesterday" and expressed "his government's determination that in the future we'll be better off and we'll do away with this scourge."
The premier said that the conditions for entering into a peace process with ETA, which has killed more than 850 people since 1968 in its campaign to create an independent Basque state in parts of northern Spain and southwestern France, are the same as they were when the separatist group declared a cease-fire on 22 March - they must first give up violence.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news