Spanish town buries four children after storm

27th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

Mourners gather in Sant Boi de Llobregat for young victims of sport hall collapse.

SANT BOI DE LLOBREGAT—Some 2,500 mourners gathered Monday in the Spanish town of Sant Boi de Llobregat for the funeral of four children killed at the weekend when gales tore down part of a sports hall.

The parents of the victims, aged between nine and 10 years old, organised a joint funeral in the northeastern Spanish town.

The president of the Catalonian region, Jose Montilla, was among those who attended an emotive service in a municipal sports centre, which was packed with nearly 2,000 people.

Another 500 braved the cold wind to participate from outside, after fruitless efforts to gain admittance.

"Why my son?" cried out one of the victim's mothers as she entered the building flanked by her husband and a psychologist ahead of the families of the other children killed in the storm.

Another mourner, who gave his name as Manuel, told AFP his daughter, whose son Eric was also among the victims, was so distraught she could not even speak to him on the phone.

Local bishop Agustin Cortes, who conducted the funeral mass, told the families, who are receiving psychological help, that they were not alone and that "together, by sharing pain," it was possible to find hope.

A note was placed on the family members' seats in the sports centre saying: "Like a flower, forever your memory in my life has left a scent that will never fade."

Spain's Defence Minister Carme Chacon, who comes from Catalonia, and regional interior minister Joan Saura also attended the service, along with members of the local baseball team.

After a sombre ceremony with little music or singing, during which one person fainted, the coffins were taken to a nearby cemetery for a private burial.

The mayor of Sant Boi, Jaume Bosch, declared three days of mourning on Sunday for the youngsters, killed when winds up to 150 kilometres per hour (95 miles) hit a building where they had taken shelter while playing baseball.

Nine people, including seven children, were injured in the accident when part of a roof and a wall fell down.

"The entire population is shocked by this tragedy, one of the worst experienced in Sant Boi. We are all very moved," Bosch had said on the town hall's website.

At least 14 people—seven in the northeastern region of Catalonia—died in Spain in violent storms that struck southern Europe over the weekend. Eight were killed in France and three in Italy.

The latest deaths were recorded in Cervo in the northwestern region of Galicia where the bodies of two people were found after they were overcome by the fumes of a defective generator used after their power went down.

Some 50,000 Spanish homes remained without electricity Monday following the storm, with nearly three quarters of these in Galicia, authorities said.

Firefighters were close to putting out two forest fires to the east of the country sparked by the violent winds, a spokesperson for emergency services told AFP.

AFP/Marcelo Aparicio/Expatica

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