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Two dead and eight injured in explosion at Catalan chemical plant

Two people were killed and eight others injured following an explosion and fire at a chemical plant in northeast Spain on Tuesday, regional authorities said.

Two dead and eight injured in explosion at Catalan chemical plant
Photo of the smoke plume caused by the explosion taken by @ponsergi / Twitter

Rescuers found a body at a chemical plant in northeastern Spain on Wednesday, raising to two the number of those
killed when an explosion ripped through the facility, triggering a massive blaze which raged through the night.

Catalan regional interior minister Miquel Buch confirmed the latest death, saying a body had been located under the rubble at the site on an industrial estate in La Canonja, just outside the northeastern port city of Tarragona.

Spain's civil protection authority identified the victim as “an employee at the plant” reported missing on Tuesday.

Hundreds of firefighters battled through the night to try and contain the blaze which erupted just before 7:00 pm (1800 GMT) on Tuesday.   

Dramatic footage of the moment of the explosion showed a huge fireball lighting up the horizon, causing the ground to shake.

 

One person died when a sheet of metal flung into the air by the force of the blast crashed into a house several kilometres away in the Tarragona suburbs, the Catalan government said.

Two others at site were rushed to hospital with severe burns, rescuers and local officials said, while one person sustained less serious burns and five others were lightly injured.

 

No warning for residents

Buch said firefighters were still trying to put out the blaze but that the situation had stabilised.

“There is material there that is burning and needs cooling down so we can't say yet that it's over,” he told reporters, saying the region had declared two days of mourning for the victims.   

The regional fire service said some 30 fire engines had been working to try and contain the inferno and cool down the propylene oxide tank at the IQOXE facility, which specialises in the production of ethylene oxide, glycol and propylene oxide.

But local residents said they had been left in the dark about the blast, saying the warning sirens had not been activated.    

“We didn't know what was happening! We called 112 (the emergency services) and they… said they didn't know anything,” Tarragona resident Mabel Martinez told Catalan public television TV3.

“I also thought it was shocking that the sirens never went off.”    

The deputy head of the region's civil protection division accused IQOXE of dragging its feet in providing details about the incident, which led to delays in warning the public.

“The (emergency) protocols were not followed,” Sergi Delgado told Catalan radio RAC1, saying IQOXE had not provided the necessary information for emergency workers to evaluate the situation and about whether there was a toxic cloud.

“This led to delays.”

 

 

'Close coordination'

But Jose Luis Morlanes, director general of IQOXE, insisted the company — whose products are used in antifreeze fluids, dehumidifiers, detergents and cosmetics — had done nothing wrong.

“We have been coordinating very closely with the authorities and following all their instructions,” he told reporters.

He said it was not immediately clear what caused the explosion which took place inside a storage tank with a capacity for holding 20 tonnes of ethylene oxide that was located in a section of the plant that only began operating in 2017.

  

 

 

 

Although the substances at the plant were highly flammable, they were not toxic, with firefighters and the civil protection authority saying no toxicity had been detected in the surrounding area.

La Canonja mayor Roc Munoz confirmed the sirens did not go off, saying it was a crucial system to warn residents that they needed to stay indoors.  

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14 Barcelona life hacks that will make you feel like a local

Barcelona is a popular city for foreign residents in Spain thanks to its coastal location, many international companies and great lifestyle. However, navigating life here can take some getting used to, so here are our top Barcelona life hacks to help make things easier for you.

14 Barcelona life hacks that will make you feel like a local
Barcelona life hacks. Image: Michal Jarmoluk / Pixabay

Invest in a good water filter

Barcelona tap water doesn’t taste the best, particularly in the areas around the Old Town such as El Born, the Gothic Quarter, Barceloneta and Raval. The water is also very hard, meaning that it leaves limescale on appliances such as your kettle.

Using a good water filter can improve the taste and make sure that limescale doesn’t build up. It’s also much more economical and healthier than buying bottled water every time you want a drink.

Use the Rodalies trains to get across the city faster

Many people when they first move to Barcelona just use the metro and don’t bother using the Rodalies trains. While it’s not always necessary, for certain journeys it can make getting across the city much faster.

For example, if you need to get from Sant Andreu or Clot to Sants to connect to one of the intercity trains, it’s only two or three stops on the Rodalies, as opposed to more than 10 on the metro, as well as changing to different lines.

Don’t try and get anything important done in August

This is probably true of most of Spain, but if you need to get anything important done, whether official paperwork or renovations on your apartment, don’t try and get them done in August.

The whole city goes on holiday for the month of August, including office personnel, builders and handypeople. If you need to get any of this done, it’s best to get it done before the holidays or to wait until September.  

Don’t buy drinks from sellers on the beach or in the park

You’ll find many people selling drinks on the city’s beaches and in the main Ciutadella Park. While it can be tempting to buy these, especially when it’s so hot, you need to be aware that these cans of drinks are often stored inside drains or under manhole covers, meaning that they’re not the cleanest.

A few years ago, El País took the mojitos sold by hawkers on the beaches to a local lab. The results came back a few days later to show that they contained high levels of fecal matter and bacteria in them.

Barcelona’s Chinese supermarkets are a great source of ingredients

Although you can now find many more foreign ingredients in local supermarkets than you could just a few years ago, there are still many that you may miss from back home, particularly South East Asian and Indian ingredients.

Barcelona has several excellent Chinese supermarkets, where you can find a range of ingredients, everything from sesame oil and Thai curry paste to Indian spices and affordable peanut butter.

Don’t take valuables out with you to certain areas, particularly at night

Unfortunately, bag snatchings and pickpockets are still commonplace in Barcelona. While the thieves mainly target tourists, foreign residents often find that they are targets too.

The trick is to blend in like a local, look like you know where you’re going and don’t take valuables with you to areas such as the Gothic Quarter, Raval or the Rambla, especially at night. Bag snatchings in El Born have also increased in recent years, so keep your wits about you around there too. 

Find your favourite beach outside of the city

Barcelona’s beaches may have been one of your prime reasons for moving here, but you’ll find that you actually prefer the beaches outside of the city.

Overcrowded, dangerous and a lot dirtier than other beaches in the area, the beaches in Barcelona are unfortunately not all that they’re cracked up to be. You’ll often find that after you’ve been for a swim, your valuables will not still be on the sand where you left them. Head just 15 to 20 minutes outside of the city however and you’ll find the beaches are far nicer and safer.

Find a beach outside of the city centre to go to. Photo: makunin /Pixabay

Try to join several different clubs or groups

Barcelona is a very transient city, meaning that people are moving here and leaving all the time. As a result, you’ll often find that most of the friends you made when first moving here have now moved away and you’ll constantly need to make more. If you join several clubs and groups, you’ll find that making new friends all the time is a lot easier. 

Don’t buy a single transport ticket

It’s never really worth buying a single transport ticket in Barcelona, because you’ll end up spending much more money per journey than you would if you bought the T-Casual (10 journeys) or the monthly T-Usual metro card instead.

You can also buy 10-journey bono tickets for the Rodalies trains, which will also save a lot of money if you’re making regular journeys out of the city. 

Try and avoid shopping at Port del Angel on Saturdays

Port del Angel is Barcelona’s main pedestrianised shopping street. While it’s great and has all the high-street fashion shops you want, it can be a nightmare shopping here on Saturdays.

If you do need to shop on a Saturday, try Rambla Catalunya or one of the shopping malls instead, which won’t be so crowded.

Be prepared for festivals and events

Barcelona holds so many festivals and events that it can be hard to keep up. In normal (non-Covid) years, there is one every other week.

Because of this tickets sell out quickly and there are many fun cultural events that you might miss out on. Keep your calendar up to date, so you know what’s going on, and make sure to book tickets for anything you want to see, well in advance. 

Tipping isn’t necessary at all bars and restaurants

Tipping isn’t all that common in Barcelona, unless perhaps if it’s a particularly nice restaurant or if there’s a large group of you that the waiter has had to look after.

You’ll find that it’s not expected either, except maybe at some of the city’s very touristy restaurants.  

READ ALSO: Why do Catalans have a reputation for being stingy?

Do lots of research before renting an apartment and if it sounds too good to be true, then it is

Unfortunately, there are lots of property scams in Barcelona, so try and do as much research as you can beforehand. Never pay money upfront before you’ve seen the property and received the keys.

Also, be aware that many landlords will not return your deposit at the end of your stay.

Many people get around this by not paying the last month’s rent, but this can also make things difficult for the good landlords who may genuinely need to deduct something for damages, so speak with your estate agency on the best thing to do in this situation.

READ ALSO: What you should know about renting an apartment in Barcelona

Hire a gestor or lawyer to help with immigration and tax issues

You’ll save yourself a lot of time and hassle with immigration and tax issues if you hire a professional to help you in Barcelona, where getting a cita previa (appointment) for official matters can often be difficult, in part because these law firms often bulk book them.

However, there are certain processes that you won’t need an immigration lawyer for such as getting a residency certificate if you’re from an EU country or exchanging your green residency certificate for a TIE if you are British and moved here before the end of 2020.

READ ALSO: BREXIT: How to apply for a TIE residency card in Spain

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