The Queen is greeted effusively by residents of Villanueva del Rosario. Carlos Moret
When the news spread last Thursday that the queen was going to visit Villanueva del Rosario, most thought it was some sort of joke. The truth had sunk in by Friday morning though and the entire village turned out to welcome Doña Sofía. The queen had wanted to see the effects of the 28th September floods first hand and at the same time offer some consolation to the victims.
After flying from Madrid to Malaga airport accompanied by the minister for Health, Social Affairs and Equality, Ana Mato, Queen Sofía travelled by helicopter - from where she viewed some of the flood damaged areas - to Villanueva del Trabuco. The journey to the neighbouring Rosario was completed in a Toyota four-by-four vehicle. There local, provincial and regional authorities were waiting for her in the Casa de la Cultura, along with representatives of flood victims and the rescue services.
Before entering the building the queen broke the protocol and went to greet a group of local schoolchildren who were waving Spanish flags and shouting “Sofía, Sofía!”
The meeting with the authorities took place in a room whose walls were lined with photographs of the disaster.
Queen Sofía described the scenes as “horrific” and called for the authorities to provide “technical and economic” aid to the area, the mayor of Villanueva del Rosario, José Antonio González, told the press afterwards.
The queen also enquired about the fire that had affected some 8,200 hectares in the province just a month before the floods. She expressed her sadness at the fact that Malaga had been hit by another catastrophe so soon after the first one.
Once the meeting with the officials was over, Doña Sofía spoke with a group of around 50 local people affected by the torrential rain and floods. She offered them consolation, asked them to be patient and gave them her encouragement as they told her their stories, some even showing photographs.
Afterwards locals who had spoken to her described her as friendly, down to earth and sincere. “I’ve seen a woman, rather than a queen”, summed up Carmen Arturo, one of the flood victims. Carmen’s neighbour had asked the queen not to let them be forgotten, and another victim told the monarch about how he had lost his hearing aid and his glasses. Doña Sofía showed a particular interest in the local children, asking whether they were able to go to school without problems.
Once the organised meetings had finished, the queen walked from the Casa de la Cultura to her car through the applauding and cheering crowds.
From there she headed back to the helicopter in order to continue her tour of the flood stricken regions, first to Vera in Almeria, and then to Puerto Lumbreras in Murcia.
Body of missing man found
Twelve days after the floods, sailors spotted a body floating some 800 metres out to sea, between Fuengirola and Benalmádena. The Guardia Civil recovered the body, which matched the description of the 60 year old man, who disappeared in Pizarra during the flooding. The authorities have since confirmed that the body, found in an advanced state of decomposition, is that of the man who was last seen being carried away by the flood after the metal sheet he was standing on was washed away. Since the disappearance, firemen and divers had been focusing their search on the river area, and the estuary. He is the third person to have lost their life in the floods in the province of Malaga, after the 85 year old woman in Álora, and an 80 year old man in Archidona.