THOUSANDS of tourists are expected to flock to the Costa Blanca for the fiery Fallas fiesta.
Artists are busy putting the final touches to the ninots, which are giant papier-mache statues often poking fun at politicians and celebrities. Many have an underlying political theme with the increase in IVA tax to 21 per cent expected to feature strongly this year.
The festival attracts thousands of daytrippers and holidaymakers and is a major source of tourism revenue for the region, particularly in Valencia where the biggest and best statues are found.
Other towns taking part include Denia, Benidorm, Calpe and Javea. Giant statues are put up in the streets and then burnt to a cinder on St Joseph’s Day, March 19, Throughout the week, fireworks and firecrackers are let off at all hours of the day and night.
Daily mascletas are also held, which are firecrackers going off in sequence reaching decibels of over 100.
In Denia the fun starts on Saturday with a concert in Calle La Vie at midnight. The statues are due to go up on Friday March 15 and are burnt on the night of March 19.
The festival dates back to the Middle Ages when carpenters used planks of wood as candle holders in the winter. To celebrate the arrival of spring, they would burn the wood. Over time, the wood was dressed in clothes to look like a person (possibly a neighbour or church figure). Then carvings were made out of the wood.
By the beginning of the 20th century, three or four figures were produced for each Falla and the bonfire grew bigger and bigger. Nowadays, the statues are made of cardboard, polystyrene or papier-mache and can be more than 30 metres high.
A British man is in hospital after fire broke out in his holiday home in Benidorm.
The 34-year-old man and his son were taken to the Alicante General Hospital after the blaze in their second-floor flat.
He is being treated for first and second degree burns, while his son suffered minor injuries.
Around 30 people were evacuated from the building, located in Calle Armada Espanola, and it took firefighters more than an hour to get the flames under control.
An investigation has now been launched into the cause of the blaze.
Last week, an 83-year-old German died in a fire at his home in Benidorm.
AN elderly German has died in a fire at his home in Benidorm (Alicante).
Police, firefighters and ambulance staff rushed to his home, a fourth-floor apartment on the C/ Virgen de la Merced, but were unable to save the man, who is believed to have died from smoke inhalation.
The emergency services were alerted by a young mother, who rented a room in the same apartment. She had been woken up by a neighbour who had had seen smoke billowing out.
The woman went to wake the 83 year old man, but he was already dead.
The cause of the blaze is not yet known, but an ashtray was found near the mattress that went up in flames, firefighters said.
JUST 190 grams of cocaine led police to the largest drug haul since 2001 in Spain!
Four tons of cocaine - enough to provide 82 million doses - was found in the €242 million bust on the Costa Blanca.
Three Spaniards with aged 49 - 56 have been remanded in custody in a police operation codenamed Pluto.
Inquiries are ongoing, and more arrests have not been ruled out.,
Guardia Civil analysts found that the 190 grams of cocaine confiscated in Albacete had been in contact with processed leather.
Subsequent investigations led them to a shoe-manufacturer in Elche, near Alicante, who had imported six containers of leather from Colombia.
The merchandise entered Spain at Algeciras in Cadiz and practically all of the shipment, loaded on pallets, was taken to an apparently-abandoned warehouse in Elche.
Police swooped a day later, taking the decision to act quickly because the warehouse was rented only the evening before the pallets arrived.
They knew that the drug would be moved on without delay, a central government representative explained.
Police suspicions proved correct, as a pallet was already loaded on a fork-lift when they entered the warehouse.
An Algeciras warehouse was also searched and police found more pallets of leather but no drugs.
A search of 15 Elche properties belonging to the detainees revealed shotguns, a hunting rifle with telescopic sights, ammunition and three machetes.
Investigators now believe other huge shipments could have already reached Spain in the same way.
Wind blows for Santa Pola Half Marathon
FOUR members of Running Wild AC braved the extreme windy conditions to join the 7,000 plus entrants at this year´s Santa Pola Half Marathon.
The Orihuela Club´s present youngest competitor, Helen Giles (Vet A, Over 35 category) was pleased to achieve a personal best of 2hrs 01´ 18” following a recent good spell of distance training.
Newcomer, Craig James (Vet B) completed the 21.1 kilometre course in 2hrs 13´ 29”, while Julia Skinner (Vet C) was only 61 secs behind him.
Vet E, Helen Mitford, one of the Club´s quicker lady runners, had failed to recover from recent health problems and subsequently took just over 2hrs 20mins to finish. She hopes to be back to strength for the Torrevieja race in five weeks´ time.
Jim Gavin, was unable to run in Santa Pola, due to a thigh-strain but attended as support and hopes to resume training shortly in order to compete along with Helen Giles, Julia Skinner, Howard Bednall and Ingrid Patursson at the prestigious Paris Marathon in April.
The Club also hopes for a good turn-out for both the 10 kilometre and the Half Marathon, jointly run events in Torrevieja on February 24.
Three club difference
STRONG winds at Villamartin made club selection in The Members Golf Society competition crucial.
Many shots were a two or three club difference to what would normally be expected with, the scores reflecting the conditions. Only two players broke the 30 point barrier. One of those was Colin Marsden who took the silver division with 30. Runner up, and only one point behind, was Austrian lady member, Olga Haubner with Norweigan Per Skarnes (28) in third place.
Only Captain Alan Rickers scored 35 points to win the gold division, Steve Higgins (27) was second with Richard Wale in third on countback with 26 points.
Nearest the pins were Peter Wells, Steve Fleet and Sandra Twentyman.
More information: www.tmgs.org or phone 966 719 604.
Perfect skies match pristine greens
GORGEOUS blue skies and pristine greens greeted St James’ Gate GS to the Alenda Course.
Results of the stableford competition were: In the gold category Ivie Davies, 34 points, was first, with Mick Hithersay (33) second and Geoff Poyner (29) third.
In the Silver category Ken Hopkins (41) was first, Ron Nicholson (37) second and Malcolm Woods (34), third.
Two players scored five points on one hole; they were Ron Nick and Ken Hopkins.
Eurogolf refuse to be blown off course
DESPITE strong winds that were seemingly giving golf balls a mind of their own 64 members of Eurogolf turned out at La Marquesa.
The weather started off quite calm but quickly deteriorated into a wild windy day, with lots of debris on the course and even trees being blown over at the Quesada, Rojales, course.
Bags and trolleys were being blown over or running away in the wind, as the intrepid golfers played a team Waltz competition.
Winning team on count back wasDoug Spiring, Harry Armstrong, Beverley Fairhurst and Connie Parker with 75 points. Second place team wasPino Perito, Colin Hobden, Orlando Ferrol and Phyllis Venables (75).
In third were John Barraclough, Ray Porter, Peter Sanderson and Janet Tocker (73).
Nearest the Pin winners were Alan Venables,Terry Sayers,Tony Stanley and Nico Baken.
The TOFF’s results were:
In the gold division first wasPaul Manning (40),secondTony Stead (36) and third John Barraclough (36).
In the silver division Bruce Gordon was first (36), secondBob Shorley (36) and third John Holland (33).
Bronze division winner wasPhyllis Venables (34), Morag Turner (33) was second and Brian Green (32) third
Nearest the pin winners were Malcolm Foskett, Roy Lowe, David Gregson and Robin Richards.
Nearest the pin winners were Malcolm Anderson, John Trailor, Ken Hopkins and Tom Richardson. with Alan Moody hitting the longest drive.
Next game for the Torrevieja based society is at Vistabella Golf, Tuesday February, 12.
Jumilla Cd 5-2 Mazarron Fc
MAZARRON will be hoping to bounce back against Corvera at home this Sunday, kick off 4.30 pm, after a heavy defeat.
The club’s unbeaten run came to an end with a 5-2 loss at second placed Jumilla. Mazarron were without top scorer Jose Ruben and Alfonso, both through suspension, but started the game in lively fashion with Barrachina enjoying his new role as an attacking right winger. On 22 minutes a lovely ball from the hard working Cecilio found Barrachina clear on the right and he ran on before hammering the ball into the corner of the net to give Mazarron a well deserved lead.
Ten minutes later Cecilio won the ball outside the Jumilla penalty area and this time found Panocha on the left and the young winger coolly slid the ball under the Jumilla keeper’s legs for what should have been Mazarron’s second goal. Controversially the referee awarded a free kick for a foul by Cecilio when he had clearly won the ball fairly.
Then three minutes before half time Cecilio was put clear by Santi and was brought crashing to the ground by the last defender. Instead of awarding a free kick which would have meant an automatic red card for the Jumilla defender, the referee waved play on. Jumilla cleared the ball straight down to the other end of the field and from the resulting cross Navarro out jumped Pollo to head the ball over Jose Iker and level the scores at half time.
Jumilla took the lead eight minutes into the second half when Pollo was again found wanting defensively and the left winger squared the ball across the goal for an easy tap in. Jumilla were then reduced to ten men when one of their defenders was dismissed following a second booking.
Cecilio shot over the bar from a good position and a clever free kick from Panocha deceived everyone with Diego just failing to make contact at the far post. However, Jumilla virtually settled the game after 76 minutes with two goals in rapid succession, the second of which was clearly offside. In between the two goals captain Diego, once again Mazarron’s best player, was inexplicably substituted much to the disgust of the Mazarron supporters.
Mazarron still created chances and with ten minutes left, Santi’s cross was hammered against the post by Cecilio and then Santi broke clear and rounded the keeper only to try to pass inside to Cecilio with an empty net in front of him and the ball was cleared.
Jumilla made it 5-1 in the 89th minute and substitute Perico scored a consolation goal for Mazarron on his debut in injury time.
PUPILS were sent home from school after strong winds smashed windows.
Student at IES Los Alcores school in San Miguel de Salinas, Daniel Broadhead said: “The pressure of the wind caused the windows to collapse through the roof in to the hallway. At our next lesson we were all told to leave as the school was closing.” Daniel's mother Rachel said they had a lucky escape: “It could have been much worse if children had been walking through the corridor.” The school remained closed for two further days until a safety inspection had been carried out.
However, one school which did not close it's doors was the Príncipe de España in Rojales. Parents were so outraged at the decision that many kept their children home. The following day, pupil's arrived with safety helmets on in protest against what their parents describe as dangerous and crumbling walls around them. In response to the criticism, Rojales Councillor for Education, Tatiana Cañizares, said the Mayor had called the head teacher at the school but it was decided to remain open due to the large number of students who stayed on the premises for lunch. “We could not get the pupil's home as a lot of the parent's are working.” The councillor added, “We did what we should do and followed procedure.”
The Emergency Department of Orihuela ordered the closure of parks and sports facilities as strong winds once again hit the region.
They advised schools not to do any outside activity and in the city's Virgen del Camino school 43 primary school students were evacuated from the prefabricated classrooms until the department technicians proved the safety of the building.
A GROUP of suspected thieves operating in the Orihuela Costa has been arrested by local police after a car chase.
The arrests were made on the ring road of San Miguel where three men were seen driving slowly in their dark blue Volkswagen Passat.
A member of the public had alerted police to the vehicle and its occupants who were acting suspiciously. As police approached the car it sped off showing no regard for traffic lights or the safety of other road users. After a short police chase the car was intercepted and it's occupants arrested.
A search of the vehicle discovered a gold pendant, a man's watch, an empty drum to transport up to 25 litres of diesel, various items of branded clothing and personal hygiene products.
Police claim the car was used in crimes committed earlier this month including a robbery on Saturday, January 5 and the theft of a gold bracelet in Cabo Roig on Friday, January 11.
WOMEN of 57 different nationalities gave birth in Torrevieja Hospital last year.
Most mothers are Spanish, followed by Moroccan and British women.
The maternity department delivered 1251 births babies, eight less than in 2011, with 627 of those born being boys.
There were 552 births to Spanish mothers, 144 to Moroccan women and 86 deliveries to British women. The average age of the mothers was between 31 and 35 years-old with the youngest being 15 and the oldest aged 49.
IT was a war of words on the Orihuela Costa as Councillor for the Coast, Pedro Mancebo, responded to allegations made by opposition parties CLARO and the PP.
Bob Houliston and former Mayor Monica Lorente denounced the “deliberate neglect of Orihuela Costa and the systematic running down of services offered in the Playa Flamenca office of the Town Hall.” Together, they made a series of accusations, all of which have been denied by the Government team.
Bob Houliston said, “Deliberate neglect of the coast was clearly illustrated in the breaking of the formal promise by the Mayor that 40 per cent of the proceeds of the sale of municipal land in Orihuela Costa would be devoted to investments on the coast. This has not happened.”
In response to this, Pedro Mancebo said that the government team has announced publicly that around €400,000, which is 40 per cent of the sale of land, will be used for projects on the coast. He said: “To state that land has been sold to enable more houses to be built is foolish. My government does not sell land to build houses, we sell the land to get the money which is needed to develop public investments. The last thing Orihuela Costa needs is new houses.” He added that there are no plans to sell protected land in the Sierra Escalona as claimed by CLARO and the PP
In response to allegations that €705,000 of funds has been transferred from the Orihuela Costa to other areas, the Mancebo denied this. “Juan Ignacio Lopez-Bas, Councillor for Commerce and Taxes and myself must sign such documents for transfer of monies. Both of us have not signed any such transfer.”
Bob Houliston and Monica Lorente gave special importance to what they said could be a potentially serious matter in relation to the appointment of a Co-ordinator to the Councillor for the Coast.
They showed documents listing the appointment at an annual salary of €33,000 but said this person has never been seen working. Mancebo admitted he did make the appointment with this salary, as is allowed, but at the last minute the post was not taken up. A new person is to start shortly on a lower salary. “No public salary whatsoever has been paid to anyone who has not worked for the Town Hall.”
The opposition councillors went on to comment about the lack of facilities within the Playa Flamenca Town Hall and the closure of the National Police office, the Aguagest, Chamber of Commerce and tourism office. Mancebo said they were working on re-instating the National Police office and admitted the tourism office had not been manned continually in recent weeks but said the Chamber of Commerce office was indeed open as was the Aguagest base.
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