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Opposition in Vigo denounced state of promenade ahead of ill-fated festival

Popular Party spokesperson sent out a tweet before Sunday’s collapse drawing attention to the poor state of the area. The incident left 300 injured, five seriously

The Vigo promenade after last night’s collapse.
The Vigo promenade after last night’s collapse. EFE

The municipal spokesperson for the conservative Popular Party (PP) in Vigo, Elena Muñoz, sent out a tweet on August 8 that now appears to have been premonitory. “This is the week of the O Marisquiño [festival], but the place where it will be held is not in a good condition. Broken timbers, spikes pointing into the air… The Paseo de las Avenidas is in a dangerous state. We hope that for the good of all nothing happens either during or after the event.”

But unfortunately, her fears came true, with the promenade collapsing last night under the weight of the mostly young attendees who had been attracted by the free concerts at the festival. A total of 300 people needed medical attention after the incident, with five left in a serious condition.

Early reports suggest that the accident did not take place due to the timbers of the promenade giving way, but rather the collapse of the concrete pilings that held it up

The Socialist Party mayor of the Galician city, located in the northwest of Spain, had also drawn attention on Friday to the state of the promenade. Abel Caballero alluded to the heavy traffic that regularly travels through the area and announced that he would be talking to the port authorities in order to carry out maintenance work.

Early reports suggest that the accident did not take place due to the timbers of the promenade giving way, but rather the collapse of the concrete pilings that held it up. The president of the port authority, Enrique López Veiga, has announced a probe into how the accident happened, but avoided taking responsibility and said that Vigo city council was in charge of maintenance.

The regional premier in Galicia, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, has called for the circumstances of the incident to be cleared up as soon as possible, describing what happened as “madness.”

Speaking to news agency Europa Press, López Veiga confirmed that the concrete structure underneath the promenade had collapsed, “which suggests a structural failure.” The port authority president alluded to an institutional deal reached between the ports and the council when the promenade was built at the end of the 1990s. In the agreement, López Viega explained, “the maintenance fell to the council,” while the port had to “cede the area and demand civil responsibility insurance” from the organizers of any event held there.

A picture taken days before the collapse to denounce the poor condition of the promenade.
A picture taken days before the collapse to denounce the poor condition of the promenade.

Municipal sources have since expressed surprise over the statements made by López Veiga, explaining that maintenance tasks in the area “do not include the revision of the concrete pilings,” and stating that the port is not obliged to allow the celebration of events in the area.

In fact, this year the president of the port authority has authorized two of the three requests filed: the O Marisquiño festival and the Vigo Sea Fest, a gastronomical fair, rejecting the fourth edition of Vigo Street Stunts, the biggest urban sports event in Spain – annoying hoteliers and local businesses in the process.

The wooden walkway didn’t fail, a port quay that was built 25 years ago collapsed

Vigo mayor, Abel Caballero

In his first statements made after the accident took place, and reported by local media outlet Faro de Vigo, the mayor, Abel Caballero, stated that the city council had no responsibilities given that the structure that failed was the quayside itself, which measures 60 by 10 meters. “The structure, built on pilings, collapsed at one of its points and in a chain reaction ended up collapsing completely,” he said. “The wooden walkway didn’t fail, a port quay that was built 25 years ago collapsed.”

The mayor went on to argue that the company that organized the O Marisquiño festival requested the venue from the port, which granted its request, while the council was in charge of checking that the paperwork relating to safety and emergencies was in order.

Now it will fall to the port authority and the courts to investigate the causes of the incident. The organizers of the festival have also issued a statement in which they assure they met all safety conditions.