The municipal election campaign stops for a day in honour of Lorca earthquake victims

Two earthquakes of 5.1 and 4.5 Richter degrees hit the Murcia Region (South-East Spain) on Wednesday afternoon causing at least 9 deaths and injuring 300 people. 30,000 people spent the night in the streets, fearing further shocks. All the Catalan parties suspended their electoral campaigning for 24 hours and a minute’s silence spread across Catalonia.

CNA / Gaspar Pericay Coll

May 12, 2011 10:40 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- The two week election campaign stopped this Thursday in honour of the victims of yesterday’s earthquakes in the Murcian city of Lorca, in South-East Spain. Catalonia showed its condolences with public demonstrations in front of the Catalan Parliament, the Catalan Government’s palace and many town halls across the country. In addition, all the main Catalan parties suspended their electoral campaigning for the municipal elections, scheduled for May 22nd. The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Party ‘Convergència i Unió’ (CiU), the People’s Party (PP), the Catalan Green Socialist Party ‘Iniciativa per Catalunya-Verds’ (ICV-EUiA), the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party ‘Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya’ (ERC) and the Anti-Catalan Nationalism and Populist ‘Ciudadanos’ (C’s) decided to halt all the campaign activities this Thursday in honour of the earthquakes’ victims.

A first earthquake of 4.5 Richter degrees occurred at 17h05 and a second one of 5.1 at 18h47, causing at least 9 deaths and injuring around 300 people, three of which are in a critic condition. 80% of the city houses have some kind of damage and 10% of them have structural damage. Fearing new earthquakes, 30,000 people slept in the streets in improvised camps. Blankets, sleeping bags, plastic chairs, and some improvised tents could be seen along Lorca squares and parks. Lorca is receiving support from the Red Cross and the army, as well as from all parts of Spain. The Emergency Military Unit deployed 420 soldiers, who set up several camps for more than 3,000 people and are cleaning up rubble. In addition, a field hospital has been set by the army, with more than 50 health professionals, surgery facilities and 6 intensive care beds.

PSOE and PP stopped the campaign in the entire Spain

Spain’s two main parties, the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and the People’s Party (PP), decided on Wednesday night to suspend the electoral campaign in the whole of Spain on Thursday. Convergència i Unió joined the initiative the same evening. The rest of the Catalan parties (ERC, ICV-EUiA, and C’s) also took this step. And all the campaign activities were put on halt in Catalonia. In Spain, the last time an electoral campaign was suspended was after Al Qaeda’s attacks in Madrid trains on March 11th 2004, which caused 191 deaths.

A minute of silence across Catalonia

The main public institutions in Catalonia took part in a minute of silence. The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, showed his respects to the victims at noon at the Plaça Sant Jaume, the square where the Catalan Government’s palace and Barcelona’s City Hall are. He was joined by the Catalan Vice President, leaders of the main political parties, and the candidates to Barcelona’s City Council, including the incumbent Mayor, Jordi Hereu. In addition, the President of the Catalan Parliament, the Bureau and many MPs congregated for a minute of silence in front of the Parliament building, in Barcelona’s Ciutadella Park. The scene was repeated across Catalonia in front of many town halls.