March 1, 2021

Resume the search of the two operators, while the fire is still active

The emergency teams will resume this Saturday the search for the two workers of a landfill missing since Thursday, after collapsing thousands of tons of materials deposited in the facility in Zaldibar, where a small fire is still active in the upper part of the dump.

Firefighters and Ertzaintza troops, who interrupted yesterday at dusk search jobs, will resume their work towards 09:00 hours, when a fire that started at the top of the landfill is still active, in a difficult area access so it is impossible to extinguish it, explained the Security department.

The fire began early yesterday afternoon by accident in the landfill, which stores industrial waste, and firefighters are monitoring its evolution, although it is considered that it will not affect the search for missing persons, they have indicated those sources.

They have also explained that yesterday the two vehicles of the missing operators were found during the search, which had been parked at the company’s facilities and that the landslide had dragged them.

More than half a million cubic meters of industrial waste, including asbestos waste, precipitated at about 4 p.m. on Thursday down the hill and buried the two workers of the landfill, in addition to cutting the AP-8 highway (Bilbao-San Sebastián) in both directions and the N-634 road at the height of Zaldibar.

In the first moments seven workers of the landfill were missing, owned by the company Verter Recicling 2002 SL, but it was soon found out that the disappeared were two men, one 62 years old and a native of Eibar (Gipuzkoa) although he lives in the town Biscay from Markina and another 51 year old from Zalla (Bizkaia).

After several hours of work, firefighters and Ertzainas who were looking for the two workers, with the help of rescue dogs, had to suspend their work at one o’clock last morning due to the appearance of asbestos, material considered carcinogenic, between the rubble.

The Basque institutions decided that an external company specializing in the treatment of asbestos waste report on how to act to ertzainas, firefighters and other members of the teams that work in the field, who have been provided with appropriate material, such as special suits .

The search continues while the landfill continues “unstable”, as determined by the geologists of the Biscay Provincial Council, who analyze how to stabilize the slope.

The affected landfill had a municipal opening license since 2011 and had the Environmental Authorization renewed since 2013, with permission to deposit materials with asbestos, as explained by the Zaldibar City Council.


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