Search resumes for two missing men ‘buried alive’ under landslide in Spain

Credit: Twitter @senseijohnny12

THE search and rescue operation to find two missing workers who were buried alive under a landslide in Spain’s Basque Country has resumed this morning (Saturday, February 8).

The search had been called off yesterday due to the significant amount of asbestos found in the collapsed earth which posed a great danger to all those involved in the operation. The Deputy Minister of Security for the Basque Government, Josu Zubiaga, had stated that medical personnel would first need to “evaluate the risks, measures to take and whether the search should continue.”

He explained that it had “been necessary to suspend the rescue work because technicians have detected a large amount of asbestos in the collapsed land that comes from a landfill that is licensed as a legal asbestos deposit.”

More than half a million cubic meters of industrial waste, including asbestos waste, collapsed at approximately 4 m on Thursday, February 6, burying two workers from the landfill. In addition to trees being uprooted, the land completely swamped the AP-8 highway in Zaldibar, Bizkaia – a road through which some 23,500 vehicles circulate daily.

The landslide has cut the AP-8 between Bilbao and San Sebastián. Credit: EP.

The search operation has also been particularly difficult due to the instability of the land which prevents heavy machinery being allowed onto the site. Currently, geologists from the Biscay Provincial Council are analysing the land.

More problems were also presented yesterday evening when a fire broke out at the landfill in an area that is difficult to access and it is reported that the blaze is still raging on the site.

Yesterday, the two vehicles which were operated by the missing workers were found during the search, however the Basque Security Department confirmed that they are still looking for a 62-year-old man from Markina and a 51-year-old from Zalla.

The rescue operation continued all through the night. Credit: Twitter.

As part of the rescue operation, a helicopter with members of the mountain rescue team onboard were deployed as well as fire-fighters, units of the police and sniffer dogs – all who have been tested for asbestos poisoning.

The Basque Government have now hired an external company specialising in the treatment of asbestos waste to instruct members of the search and rescue tram on how to conduct their duties, where they have provided special protections suits for safety.

As Euro Weekly News understands, the landslide originated at the Verter Recycling Landfill facilities and its dimensions are unprecedented in Euskadi, according to a member of the Rescue Unit who has more than three decades of experience.


The men are under thousands of tonnes of land. Credit: Twitter.
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Written by

Isha Sesay


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