Two more die in Spain wildfires
Monday 23 July 2012
A father and one of his children died when a family was forced to jump 160 feet into the sea after being trapped by a wildfire.
The mother and two other children survived the plunge over cliffs at the French-Spanish border on the Mediterranean coast.
The family was forced out of their car after it became surrounded by flames just as they were about to cross the Spanish border into France at the end of their holiday.
Two other people were also killed by the weekend fires in north-eastern Spain that have burned 35 square miles.
Another 150 mostly French tourists also had to abandon their cars on Sunday evening because of the wildfire, walking down steep hillsides toward the beach in the border town of Portbou, said Deputy Mayor Elisabet Cortaba. Many suffered injuries ranging from broken bones to burns.
The French family of five got separated from the rest of the group on their way down and ended up at the cliff with no way out as the fire fanned by heavy winds approached them, Ms Cortaba said.
"The fire started to close in on them and they couldn't climb up or climb down," she said. "The only way out was to jump into the sea."
The 60-year-old father died instantly after landing on rocks, and his 15-year-old daughter drowned.
The mother was in critical condition and a son and other daughter did escaped with minor injuries. All were fished out of the sea by Portbou boaters and their identities were not released.
The fires forced more than 1,400 people to stay the night in shelters and also killed two more people, including one man who had a heart attack while dousing flames around his home.
Train service in the region was suspended and several cross-border roads linking Barcelona with France were closed because of the advancing flames.
Santiago Villa, mayor of Figueres, which houses a Salvador Dali museum, said he had ordered the city's 44,000 residents to stay indoors until further notice.
The fire service said in a statement that more than 80 teams had been deployed to combat the wildfires.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement that it had sent three specially equipped aircraft and an emergency unit from Zaragoza to aid firefighters.
A north wind called the Tramontana is a regular feature of life in mountainous north-eastern Spain and its strong gusts, which can often exceed 100 mph, can spread fires rapidly across the heavily forested area.
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