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Carnage in southern Spain

April 24, 2008

It was a quiet Saturday evening when a phone call awakes me from my rest at about 11pm.

“A lot of Finns have died in Málaga [in southern Spain],” the journalist from a large Finnish magazine said. “Can you check what is going on and I’ll call you at noon [Sunday].”

The first death count I heard was eight, which had risen to nine, with 22 people being sent to different hospitals. That was Saturday evening.

About 3.5 hours before the call, a young man had passed a bus full of Finnish tourists that was going to the airport. The driver, who lost control of the black SUV and was driving under the influence of alcohol, crashed into the ramp and then smashed against the bus, causing it to overturn. Part of the ramp broke off and flew with tremendous force and cut into the bus like a sword. Some of the passengers were unrecognizable. DNA tests had to be made to determine their identity. That is how ferocious the crash was.

Contrary to Saturday night, when Andlausian authorities said there were two Finns in critical condition contrary to one on Sunday. There were still 18 hospitalized the day after the crash. By Thursday, there were 13 still hospitalized but they were ready to fly back to Finland on Friday. Only the lady, who was in critical condition, would continue to be hospitalized in the intensive-care ward.

There were a few matters that shocked and surprised me about reporting the event:

1) A 6-year old girl was one of the victims that died in the crash.

2) The victims and the suffering they endured.

3) The driver and how he has ruined his life. The General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), Spain’s top judicial watchdog body, told me that the driver could receive a prison sentence of “over 10 years.”

4) Why didn’t the Finnish embassy in Madrid raise a flag in half mast to honor those who died in the crash?

So, apart from the prison term that awaits the driver, does he have to pay any indemnities to the victims of the crash? “The one who will pay the indemnities is the insurance company,” Enrique López, a CGPJ spokesperson, told me. “Not the driver.”

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