A visit to Madrid wouldn’t be complete without taking a walk through El Retiro, a beautiful park in the heart of the city.
But an activity as carefree as this is now being overshadowed by the death of two locals who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when rotten tree branches fell on them.
The first victim was a 38-year-old father of two who was playing with his children in El Retiro in late June when the accident happened.
The second was a 72-year-old man who died on Monday in a different part of the city for the same reason.
In the two-and-a-half months between these deaths, there have been 20 other tree-related accidents that have injured Madrid residents in central city streets – including a seven-year-old girl, – and smashed cars, terraces and other property.
“For 40 to 50 years trees weren’t planted properly,” researcher Mariano Sánchez told Spanish national daily ABC.
“The problem affects not just El Retiro but the whole of Madrid and Spain. Carrying out studies to check if El Retiro’s 20,000 trees are rotten would be costly and complicated.”
Madrid’s right-wing mayor Ana Botella has been criticized by opposition groups such as the socialist PSOE party for slashing public spending on street and park maintenance.
Monday’s death has prompted her to act and send a team of specialists and foresters to chop down ‘suspicious’ trees in Madrid’s emblematic park.