Desperate wait to discover fate of loved ones
12 March 2004
MADRID – Hundreds of people in Madrid were trying to discover Friday what happened to their missing relatives after the bomb attacks.
Shocked and weeping relatives and friends scoured hospital lists for the injured and gathered at a makeshift morgue to identify the dead.
A teenager told in a call to the emergency services that he only discovered his girlfriend had died 24 hours after the bomb attacks.
The 18-year-old found her body among the hundreds of corpses which were being identified by relatives at a mortuary.
His mother María del Carmen Caro Sánchez told journalists that all Thursday her son was going round hospitals in Madrid trying to find his girlfriend.
“My girlfriend is dead. She only wanted to go to her class,” he said.
Monica, a 23-year-old Ecuadorian, said she was worried about a 20-year-old friend who had lost an arm and a leg in the attacks.
The man, who has three-children, had lost his wife eight days earlier to cancer of the uterus.
Mónica said her friend had lied to his family in Ecuador but would have to tell them the truth when they arrived in Madrid Friday afternoon.
Sania, another Ecuadorian, said she was desperately trying to find her aunt and a friend.
“We have been calling her mobile phone since the early hours of Thursday. They have not answered. We are going to the hospital to see if we can find out more.”
The latest victim was on Friday night, when a nine-month-old girl, Patricia, died.
Nearly 200 people were killed and more than 1,400 injured in the 10 attacks on commuter trains in the city.
Around 40 forensic scientists were working to identify remains of some victims Friday.
Meanwhile the Spanish authorities have been encouraging people to visit the Interior Ministry website to check the list of injured.
More than 300 people were still being treated in hospital, many of them in a critical condition.
The morgue was set up at the Juan Carlos exhibition centre in the north of the city.
Many families, counsellors and volunteers have gone without sleep for over 20 hours as they work on the identification process.
The mother of Julio Cesar Martinez, 24, who was on one of the trains which blew up as it entered Atocha station, said her son had a piece of metal lodged dangerously close to vital organs and was too ill to be seen.
“We have been waiting to see him all day,” she said as she waited at the October 12 hospital. “If I get my hands on them …”
People of 11 nationalities are among the victims, some of them illegal immigrants. Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar said they would automatically be offered Spanish citizenship.
Some of the dead and injured come from Spain’s large Latin American community.
Carlos Alberto Rendon, from Colombia, said: “I am looking for my wife.
“I don’t know anything, I can’t find her anywhere and she isn’t on any of the lists.”
At the morgue people are preparing themselves for the worst.
Many are prepared to spend hours or even days at the centre.
Police, medical staff and counsellors meet them to ask for basic details such as height, hair colour and clothing, before a provisional list of dead and injured is consulted.
But identification the bodies is proving difficult.
“Some of the people have been decapitated and are unrecognisable,” said psychologist Amparo Lopez.
Authorities have given permission for relatives of more than 100 victims to bury their relatives after autopsies were carried out.
Coffins were being delivered to transfer the bodies.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news