Exactly 20 years ago, the evening of August 7, 1996, a terrible storm in the Pyrenees Aragones caused a strong flood that swept the Camping Las Nieves located in Biescas (Huesca), in the tourist season. 87 people died and 183 were injured.
The campsite was located on the alluvial fan of the Torrent of Arás. An alluvial fan is like a giant spout where the waters flowing down from a hillside dumped. Obviously a dangerous site in case of flood. However, the authorities agreed the construction of camping in this place, although there are some reports against both officials and some experts who advised against it completely. By that afternoon the ravine rushed between 200 and 500 cubic meters of water per second.
The flood lasted only a few minutes but struck the campsite in full, dragging caravans, vehicles and shops for down sleeping bags described by Itypeauto. Only services and social center left standing. Trees and electric poles were uprooted , leaving a bleak picture.
The tragedy is greatly aggravated by dragging the water more than 40 dams located on the alluvial fan, which were not enough to contain the water, dragging a lot of sediment (more than 120,000 tons, an awful lot). Again nature could with the man.
Luis Estaún, who was Mayor of Biescas during the tragedy said:
“That was the absolute destruction, devastation, looked like a war zone, that is impossible to forget. It was a tremendous, unusual storm. Upon arrival at the campsite ‘Las Nieves’ I ran full disaster: people wandering aimlessly, disoriented, people who had stripped the riada and tried to recover from the flood … “.
In just 40 minutes the water completely razed one of the best campsites in the Pyrenees.
As in any large tragedy, sanitary facilities Biescas remained small with so many people in need of assistance (there were 183 injured). To make matters worse evacuations were very difficult because the flood had affected the national road between Biescas.
The solidarity of the neighbors who opened their homes to those affected mitigated in part the magnitude of the tragedy. The presence of numerous people of Biescas prevented the collapse, given the lack of coordination. Even were some of the neighbors who alerted the families after they recover the computer hard drive the campsite where theywere registered all campers. In the presence of people of various nationalities priests who speak, English, French or Portuguese and the embassies of Germany, Austria, Denmark, Greece and Portugal were requested references asked about the tragedy at the Diplomatic Information Office
But not only it was acts of solidarity with the victims, but also attempts to plunder for those who were arrested several people after robbing vehicles and caravans, taking advantage of the initial confusion.
The tasks of recovering bodies continued for several weeks. The last, the body of a child who had been reported missing, appeared a year later.
It was the second family resort on the campsite “Las Nieves” Oriol Espinosa of 19 years and one of the survivors. He was with his parents, his brother, an uncle and a nephew. He lost his mother. Remember that no reaction time:
“The flood grew in devastating within seconds. We dragged with tremendous force and came to move rocks tens of tons. By then he was a professional swimmer and that helped me. Runway knew me away and I managed to hold onto a tree , “he recalls. “A tragedy like that leaves a double experience: emotional, dramatic loss of a loved one; and vital, because it changes the way we see things, to face life. ”
José Antonio Navas was a resident of Biescas who came to assist the victims. He pulled out two bodies. “The campsite was completely destroyed, as if a dam had burst. There were survivors who had dragged them riada four kilometers away. There has always been strong storms, but one of this magnitude ever I have seen, was bestial and caused a flood of incredible destructive power. ”
In 2005 the High Court concluded that the tragedy could have been avoided. He fought from all blame the owner of the campsite and the City Council, condemning the Government of Aragon and the Ebro Hydrographic Confederation (under the state Agency) as responsible for ensuring safety. They were sentenced to compensate the families of victims with more than 11 million Euros.
As in the case of the tragedy of Camping Alfacs of Catalonia (greater in number of deaths) we talked about some time in the blog, the tragedy could have been much greater if it had not evacuated shortly before a children ‘s camp over 200 children in a near Camping area.
Biescas Sunday August 7 held a tribute to campers who died in the tragedy, in which a memorial to remember the victims will open.
Rest in peace.
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