Thursday, 8 November 2012

Gibraltar girl was fourth death in Madrid Arena tragedy

Funeral held on Monday
(Nicky Langdon, centre)
Parents were called back from a trip to Brazil
MADRID A stampede in an arena where thousands of people were attending a Halloween dance party killed three women and critically injured two others early last Thursday, officials said. However, the fourth person to die was Belén Langdon, of Gibraltar, who died on Saturday morning. She was the daughter of Nicky Langdon, the well-known architect. Nicky and his wife were in Brazil when they were told of their daughter being in serious condition in hospital. They returned immediately and went straight to the hospital from Barajas airport.  Belén, the youngest of seven siblings, died on Sunday. Her funeral was held on Monday. The other three girls, all aged 18, were Katia Esteban Casielles, Rocío Oña Pineda and Cristina Arce de la Fuente. The other girl, who is still in intensive care, is María Teresa Alonso, aged 20.>>>

The tragic event happened just after 4 a.m. in a passageway within the venue leading to the central concert area at Madrid Arena, where the disco-style party with American DJ Steve Aoki was under way. Someone set off a flare, causing the stampede that trampled the five young women, Deputy Mayor Miguel Angel Villanueva said. Later investigations deny that it was the flare that caused it, but blame is now being laid on the organizers, who allowed too many people inside.

From YouTube
One witness said the stampede left partygoers piled atop one another as high as her shoulders.

"I saw a mass of people screaming 'Help, get me out of here,' with security guards tugging at them," Ana Gomez told state broadcaster TVE. "I remember seeing the face of one young man, and his expression was that of sheer terror."

Thousands of people were attending the party when the stampede occurred, leaving the victims with trauma injuries or breathing and heart failure, emergency services spokesman Fernando Prado said.

Villanueva said at the time that the venue's maximum capacity of 10,600 people had not been exceeded and that authorities decided not to evacuate the arena when the accident occurred. However, later broadcasts by this and other media, confirmed that numerous partygoers had got in without tickets. A Facebook appeal that went out earlier this week asked those who had been there to send in photos of their tickets, though it was not clear what these might be used for.

Most of the young crowd were unaware of the stampede because it was confined to the passage, according to witnesses.

Madrid Mayor Ana Botella immediately announced that the venue would no longer be rented out for 'macro-parties' and that an 'investigative committee' would be set up to find out the truth of what went on. The police are carrying out their own investigation, as is the Madrid court at which the deaths are being scrutinized.

Halloween has recently become a popular festivity in Spain, coinciding with the traditional feast of All Saints. Parties of this kind are common at major cities, and proportionately smaller ones are held at other venues. 

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