Monday, 2 October 2023, 16:24
Two people have died at a winery in Rioja in the north of Spain after inhaling deadly carbon dioxide fumes. The two men, Gerardo Jubera and Félix Crespo, inhaled toxic gas given off during the alcohol fermentation process at about 1pm on Sunday in the Crespo Zabala family winery in Lanciego. The 60 and 61 year olds were brothers-in-law and part of very well-known families in the village.
According to the local mayor Itziar de Álava, Jubera approached the tank to check on the wine but slipped and fell inside. A worker then alerted Crespo, who rushed to the tank and jumped inside to try and save his brother-in-law, but died after inhaling the toxic fumes. "It's something we would all do to save a family member," the councillor said.
Neighbours tried to ventilate the bodega while Crespo desperately tried to save Jubera, but it was too late and they both died at the scene. A 31-year-old foreign worker was taken to hospital and is in a stable condition.
The health and safety board in Basque (Osalan) is investigating the incident.
'We are devastated'
Tributes poured in for the two men, with many residents in the village and surrounding towns flocking to the winery to pay their respects and tears flowed at the gates as they tried toconsole the families.
"We are devastated," Álava said. "At harvest time there is a very high risk and we are aware of the dangers involved," she added. Inhaling carbon dioxide, an odourless enemy, is a danger among wine producers. It is impossible to detect and when inhaled it can cause dizziness, fainting or death.
It's not the first tragedy to hit the Rioja Alavesa area. The last incident was 7 October 2020 when two men, one of them the former mayor of La Puebla de Labarca, Dani Espada, died after breathing in carbon dioxide. The former councillor fell into a 5,000-litre tank after fainting and his cousin, Marcos Galluralde, jumped in to try to save him.
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