Spanish army called in as snow traps thousands on roads

Personnel from the Spanish army’s emergency unit UME working to unblock cars stuck on the AP6 highway after a heavy snowfall. (AFP)
Updated 07 January 2018
0

Spanish army called in as snow traps thousands on roads

MADRID: Spain deployed 250 soldiers on Sunday to help rescue thousands of people trapped in their vehicles by heavy snow overnight on a highway near Madrid, officials said.
The army’s emergency unit UME said it sent two companies of specialist soldiers and 95 vehicles to free over 3,000 vehicles that became stranded on the AP6 highway linking Madrid and the northwestern city of Segovia.
“The vehicles were removed one by one. There were cars with babies inside that did not have water or food,” said UME spokesman Aurelio Soto.
Videos posted on Twitter by emergency services showed soldiers and police battling snow drifts as they used shovels to clear snow from around trapped cars.
About 70 kilometers (45 miles) of the highway in the center of the country were blocked by snow just as families were returning home after the end of the Christmas holidays.
Motorists took to social media to complain that they had been trapped on the road since Saturday night without anything to eat and no heating, amid freezing temperatures.
“My husband and I didn’t eat anything to give the little we had to our children,” Sara Ramos, who was trapped in her car for 15 hours with her husband and two children aged two and six, told Spanish public television.
“It was really distressing because it was many hours of waiting. It was a really difficult situation. There were people who had no heat because their car battery ran out.”
Public Works Minister Inigo de la Serna said the government had opened an inquiry to see if the toll road operator that runs the AP6 highway — Iberpistas, a subsidiary of Spain’s Abertis — “had fulfilled all protocols” for a snow storm.
The minister said many other roads were covered by snow but these were closed and cleared without drivers being trapped in their vehicles for so long. He urged people not to use their cars in areas affected by he snow storm “unless it is strictly necessary.”
Spain’s weather office issued alerts for 37 provinces on Sunday because of the risks posed by the heavy snow, strong winds and rain.


Radical UK cleric Choudary released from prison

Updated 1 min 18 sec ago
0

Radical UK cleric Choudary released from prison

  • The 51-year-old Anjem Choudary was jailed for five-and-a-half years in 2016
  • He will serve the rest of his sentence under strict supervision orders
LONDON: Radical cleric Anjem Choudary, long a thorn in the side of British authorities, was released from prison on Friday having served half his sentence for encouraging support for the Daesh group, British media reported.
The 51-year-old was jailed for five-and-a-half years in 2016, and will serve the rest of his sentence under strict supervision orders having been released from Belmarsh prison, near London.
He is expected to return to his home in Ilford, east of London, although will not be able to use any Internet-enabled devices without permission, the BBC reported.
Other restrictions are reported to include bans on leaving Britain without permission and on attending certain mosques and he will only be allowed to meet with people approved by the police.
Choudary is the former head in Britain of Islam4UK or Al-MuHajjiroun, a now-banned group co-founded by Omar Bakri Muhammad that called for Islamic law in the UK.
For two decades, the former lawyer of Pakistani descent stayed on the wrong side of the law, becoming Britain’s most prominent radical preacher.
Among those radicalized by MuHajjiroun were the suicide bombers who killed 52 people on London’s public transport system in July 2005, and the men who murdered soldier Lee Rigby in the capital in 2013, police say.
The court heard that Choudary had broadcast speeches recognizing Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi as the leader of the Daesh.
Choudary and his co-defendant Mohammed Rahman were arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command on September 25, 2014.
The father-of-five previously hit the headlines for organizing a pro-Osama bin Laden event in London in 2011.
He also belonged to a group that burned poppies, the symbol of remembrance for deaths in war, during an Armistice Day protest in the British capital in 2010.
In a 2014 interview with AFP, Choudary called on western journalists, civilians and troops in “Muslim countries” to “completely withdraw and allow us to implement the Shariah.”
Former police terror chief Richard Walton called him a “hardened dangerous terrorist” who had had a “huge influence on Islamist extremism in this country.”