Party animals spread through the Med

MICHAEL BIRKETT, our Vice-Consul in Ibiza, may have quit his job yesterday in protest at the rowdy behaviour of British tourists, but all across the Mediterranean the partying will go on - and, if the latest trends are to be believed, things are getting even rowdier.

Ibiza, Tenerife and Majorca in Spain, and the Mediterranean islands of Corfu, Rhodes, Ios, Crete, and Cyprus are among the focus points for the mass downloading of Britons every summer.

Mr Birkett, formerly the chief accountant at the British embassy in Madrid, chose the wrong location if he wanted a quiet life in the sun. Ibiza has been one of the hubs of European rave culture for a decade.

The resort of San Antonio, which has in recent years gained notoriety as the island's Mecca for designer-drug dealing and drunken live-sex shows, was described by one British official yesterday as "the Wild West".

Rapidly catching up on Ibiza is Playa de Las Americas in southern Tenerife. Some 150 Britons have been arrested so far this year in Tenerife, 98 per cent in connection with violent offences, compared with 140 last year. Deaths in Tenerife reached a record of 107, including murders, suicides and accidental drunken plunges from the balconies of high-rise hotels.

Ibiza saw 60 British deaths last year, and 147 arrests, although countless incidents of drunkenness and misbehaviour do not remain on the official records.

Magaluf in Majorca is a hectic focus of drunkenness and drug-use among thousands of 18 to 30-year-old revellers.

But Gary Walters, who works at a striptease bar in Kavos on Corfu, said: "The vast majority of them come here to have a rave, get wasted and shake off their inhibitions. There may be a couple of scuffles and that, but it's just like back home."

Mr Birkett was constantly dealing with court cases of British clubbers. A Spanish observer in Ibiza said: "I think things just got on top of him and he couldn't take any more." Officials denied that he was about to be fired for being unable to cope with the workload. It is understood that Mr Birkett, who has a Spanish wife, plans to stay and open a restaurant.

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