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Memorial to Madrid terrorist attack victims lies abandoned and unloved

Jessica Jones · 18 Nov 2015, 12:15

Published: 18 Nov 2015 12:15 GMT+01:00

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As commuters power walk through Madrid's bustling Atocha station, few glance to look in the direction of the memorial to the victims of the Madrid terror attacks, which currently lies in a crumpled heap, hardly resembling a monument to the worst terror attacks in Spanish history. 

The memorial to the 191 people killed in the 2004 could be mistaken for a giant disgarded newspaper, a sign on the door announcing "closed for maintenance work". 

The memorial is an 11-metre high glass cylinder, which people should be able to walk under and look up to see messages of condolence written on the inside. 

But recent damage has led to a lack of sufficient air pressure keeping the plastic lining inside the cylinder, instead, for around two months the lining printed with words has been lying on the floor. 

The bomb attacks - carried out by an al-Qaeda-inspired cell - took place on the morning of March 11th 2004, killing 191 people and injuring 1,800. 

On Wednesday morning, workmen were busily fixing up sheets of paper onto the windows looking onto the memorial, to hide the disrepair while they carried out maintenance work.

Workers were fixing paper onto the windows of the monument to hide repair work from the public on Wednesday. Photo: Jessica Jones 

"It’s a shame," José, who works in Atocha station, told The Local. "It has been like this for a few weeks now and we have no idea when it’ll be reopened, maybe one week, maybe two, who knows."

"Lots of people have been asking me when it’s going to reopen, we have a lot of tourist groups visit the memorial, English, French, Germans, as well as Spaniards," he said.

The Atocha Information Centre told The Local they had "no idea" when the memorial would reopen, adding "maybe in a couple of weeks."

The memorial has suffered a series of problems since it was unveiled in 2007, including collapsing an estimated seven times.

Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena has said the city council is working to repair the memorial "as soon as possible", having allocated €220,000 of the 2016 budget to repairing the monument.

What the memorial is supposed to look like. Photo: AFP

The seemingly lax attitude to the memorial has provoked many people in Spain to question how well their country preserves similar monuments.

National newspaper El País on Wednesday ran a gallery with other monuments - such as a memorial in San Sebastián to Fernando Múgica, who was killed by Eta - that have been allowed to fall into disrepair.

Spaniards took to twitter to bemoan the lack of respect afforded the victims in preserving the memorial.

The monument to the victims of terrorism at Atocja is abandoned. What a disgrace.

Victims of the train bombings and their relatives decried the deplorable state of the monument calling it symbolic of the attitute towards victims as a whole.

"It is a reflection of the deterioration of the treatment of victims," Pilar Manjón who lost her 20-year-old son in the attack and who is president of the  11-M Terrorism Victims Association,  told Europa Press.

Story continues below…

The Paris terrorist attacks of Friday in which 129 people died have reawakened memories of the bombings in Madrid when Islamic terrorists bobed commuter trains during rush hour claiming 191 lives and injuring more than 1,800 people.

Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena has said the city council is working to repair the memorial "as soon as possible", having allocated €220,000 of the 2016 budget to repairing the monument.



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Jessica Jones (jessica.jones@thelocal.com)

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