Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Nightclub fire - República Cromañón 2004

This week’s nightclub fire in Brazil, in which 231 people lost their lives, is being mourned throughout the South American country while officials attempt to discover the causes of the fire. Initial reports suggest that it started when a member of the band playing at the Kiss Club in Santa Maria lit a flare on stage. Issues with the fire safety certificate and blocked fire exits may have contributed to the scale of the disaster. It is all an awful reminder of the República Cromañón nightclub fire in Buenos Aires in 2004 which killed 194 in very similar circumstances.

Until Brazil, the fire at the República Cromañón nightclub in the Once neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, was the fourth deadliest in the world. 

Saturday, 19 May 2012

The migrants who didn’t make it to Buenos Aires

When the Italian transatlantic steamer the Sirio foundered off the coast of Spain on a hot afternoon in August 1906, 300 passengers, most of them Italian and Spanish migrants on their way to a new life in Argentina, lost their lives in tragic circumstances.

The disaster has a lot in common with the recent Costa Concordia incident. Both ships ran aground caught sailing too close to the coast and both captains abandoned ship before their passengers had the chance to be rescued. But the Sirio was not a cruise. It was a ship which spent her life transporting migrants to the New World and a new life.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Was the 1978 World Cup in Argentina fixed?

Daniel Passarella lifts the cup
On 25 June 1978 Argentines sang their lungs out in celebration of their national team’s victory over the Netherlands at the World Cup final in Buenos Aires. There was a controversial start to the final. The Dutch side was forced to stand around on the pitch waiting for Argentina, who used stalling tactics, to emerge from the dressing room five minutes late. But after the typically unpunctual Argentine arrival, the home side won the match 3-1 after goals from Mario Kempes and Daniel Bertoni took the game away from the Netherlands in extra time.

The tournament, and especially the victory, sparked nationalist pride. The euphoria engulfed Argentina and helped its military dictator, General Jorge Videla, draw attention away from the atrocities which his government was committing at the time of what is known as Argentina’s Dirty War.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Cristina, Respol YPF, The Adonia and British imports

As Cristina and her government step it up a gear in their dispute with the United Kingdom, this week pretty much banning the import of British products and turning away a cruise ship because it had previously visited the Falklands/Malvinas, they have now begun to antagonise Spain too hinting more and more at the possibility of state intervention at the Spanish oil and gas company, Repsol YPF.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Disaster on El Sarmiento

With fifty fatalities, over six hundred injured and at the time of writing, the recent re-emergence of two of the three unaccounted for passengers more than 48 hours after the accident, the crashing of the Sarmiento train at Once station in Buenos Aires is the worst train accident in Argentina since the 1979 head on collision of two trains near Benavidez station when over 140 people lost their lives.

The dramatic and distressing images of carnage and trapped passengers that were broadcast live over Argentine television were sometimes hard to watch as the severity of the incident became more and more paramount with the increasing numbers of official dead.

The Sarmiento train is the one that I use most weekends in Buenos Aires to visit my wife’s family who live in Moreno and we have many friends who use the service to commute to Capital for work. We therefore spent a number of hours confirming that no one with whom we were acquainted was involved in the accident. But as my wife’s sister said on her Facebook page shortly afterwards, ‘it could have been any of us who use the Sarmiento on that train. May this serve once and for all to end the negligence.’

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

El Subte

Present map of the Subte, the underground of Buenos Aires
So it’s been over a month since control of the city’s underground rail system, known as El Subte, was transferred from the Federal Government to Mauricio Macri’s Buenos Aires City Government, and although full control isn’t expected to be handed over for at least a further couple of weeks, the effects of the change are already being felt.

On January 6, fares were dramatically raised from $1.10 per journey to $2.50, a hike of 127%. This gave rise of course to protests and pandemonium which saw Metrovias open up turnstiles on day one of the new price to let everyone travel for free. While during the weeks leading up to the fare increase, lengthy queues built up at stations throughout the city as users stocked up on as many $1.10 tickets as they could cram into their pockets. Many even turned the exercise into a business opportunity selling ten journey tickets online for $20, undercutting the new $25 price and making a cheeky $9 profit in the process.