Thousands of date palms have been burnt in UNESCO World Heritage orchards in Elche. Thousands of palm trees were scorched in four separate orchards during the early hours of Saturday morning, according to Alicante’s Provincial Consortium of Fire fighters.
The first fire was reported around 0.50am, in a palm orchard in La Hoya. Later, at around 2.25am, there was a second fire in palm orchard near Algorós. Minutes later, another garden had started to burn, this time next to the CV-856 at the 1km mark. Finally, at 6 o’clock in the morning, a fourth fire was reported next to the CV-851 at the 2km mark.
A total of 25 fire fighters from the Provincial Consortium arrived from Elche, Crevillent, San Vicente and Almoradí to put out the blaze, alongside a six-strong unit of forest fire fighters.
The Palmeral of Elche has close to 200,000 date palm trees, covering 3.5 sq km. It is the only palm grove in Europe, and palmeros still honour agricultural traditions passed down from the Moorish civilisation.
Initial signs reportedly indicate the fires were intentional. The Local Police of Elche, together with the Fire Department and the National Police have announced that an investigation has been opened to clarify the causes.
Fruit has gone up at more than three times the rate of general living costs, by two-thirds in 12 years and by 14 percent in the past year, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INE). Only cigarettes, up by 102 percent and university tuition fees, which have increased by 68 percent, fruit has gone up in price more than any other consumer goods or services since before the start of the financial crisis.
Weekly fruit shopping cost €20 just over a decade ago, but now comes in at €33 – yet farmers are not benefiting from this increase and conclude that retailers must be giving themselves a higher profit margin.
A national farming union, the UPA, says the fruit industry is ‘rife with speculation’ and agricultural workers are having to produce far more nowadays just to break even, and many are dropping out of the sector altogether.
Stallholders believe the price hike must be due to climate change and shrinking harvests.
In fact, some fruit farmers – particularly watermelon-growers in the provinces of Almería and Murcia – are considering giving up because they are afraid of running out of irrigation water due to the ongoing drought.
Retailers say fruit now costs more because a higher amount is exported, as producers know they can earn more from selling their crops abroad – in fact, exports have risen by 67 percent in the last decade, much of which goes to the UK and Germany.
According to a national association of supermarket chains, the costs of sustainable waste management have gone up and the quality of the fruit in general has improved, which has had an impact on the end consumer price.
Fruit becoming more expensive means residents in Spain are buying less of it to save money – around 12 percent less, in fact, than five years ago, or down from nearly 4,800 tonnes to just 4,200, or from 103 to 92 kilos per person per year. Despite the fall in consumption, the amount spent per capita on fruit remains the same as five years ago at €134 annually.
Figures show that some fruit rises in price by as much as 500 percent between field and supermarket shelf – this is the case with Golden Delicious apples, which sells at €2.22 per kilo in shops compared with 37 cents per kilo at source.
Other types of fruit where the margin between source and consumer is huge include clementines, which retail at €1.53 per kilo but for which farmers are paid 32 cents per kilo, a difference of 378 percent; oranges, which go up by 207 percent, from 63 cents to €1.94 per kilo; pears, from 56 cents to €2.01 per kilo or 258 percent, and bananas, with a difference of 397 percent, increasing from 43 cents to €2.14 per kilo.
The UPA is calling for greater control, saying customers are paying excessively high prices whilst farmers are barely covering their costs, and all those in between along the supply chain are ‘lining their pockets’.
Supermarket association ASEDAS does not agree, saying they consider it ‘perfectly reasonable’ that a third of the value of the fruit should each go to the grower, the retailer, and the company involved in selection, cleaning and transporting, which they say ‘explains the 300 percent increase’.
The trial of five police officers from Torrevieja has continued in Elche with further revelations. Now, recordings from phone calls made at the time, present new evidence to support the allegations of torture.
The alleged mistreatment of the two detainees happened in 2006. One of those arrested had two broken ribs when taken to the hospital to deal with injuries that the police claimed were sustained during a fall downstairs. The two detainees were a Spanish woman and a Colombian man who were caught after entering and robbing the property of a police officer.
The officers are accused of torture, making threats and harassment and the subsequent cover up of events afterwards. The length of time between the incident and it coming to court has created difficulties for the prosecution including that of locating the two criminals concerned.
According to one of the phone calls officers are heard saying: ‘I have a problem. There is a detained person here who robbed a police officer’s flat this morning and has been beaten and now when we take him to the doctor and to the court he will talk.’ The phone call continues; ‘Although he is a criminal, he has serious injuries.’
Those at the trial heard fragments of further telephone conversations that appeared to substantiate the accusations against the officers. The court had already heard how official video recordings of the two detained criminals had been erased. Further snippets of telephone conversations further suggest that these recordings had been deleted deliberately.
The trial continues and it is expected that sentence will be passed in the middle of September.
Guardia Civil traffic officers rescued an injured owl on the motorway in Elche. The rescue took
place early on Thursday morning on the A-7 when a member of the public reported seeing a
potentially injured owl on the motorway. A nearby traffic patrol made its way to the area and
managed to rescue the animal which had suffered a broken wing, presumably due to being hit
by a vehicle. Officers rescued the eagle owl and handed it over to Seprona, the environmental
wing of the Guardia Civil, where it was later transferred to a special recovery centre in Santa
The eagle owl is a species in danger of extinction and of a high ecological value. It is hoped that
once the animal has recovered from the injury at the Santa Faz Species Recovery Center it will
be returned to its natural habitat if they deem appropriate. According to statistics from
previous years, three quarters of the animals that are brought this centre are released at a
A woman has been arrested, accused of attempting to arrange the prostitution of a minor –
her own 13 year old niece – at a coffee shop in Elche. Officers investigating the case are
currently looking in to whether the incident is linked to a wider sex trafficking network.
The woman was arrested on Thursday at a cafe in Elche and appeared in court on Friday
morning to make a statement before the judge.
The incident itself took place on February 10 th when officers received a call from an eyewitness
to the alleged incident. The witness called the National Police emergency number, 091,
following concerns about what was taking place in the cafe.
The witness told the officers that a woman was trying to convince three men in the
establishment “to accept the sexual favours of her 13-year- old niece.”
A unit was dispatched to the scene to intervene. When the officers arrived at the cafe and
entered the establishment, they observed three men sitting next to a woman and a younger
girl sitting on one of the tables.
The officers decided to transfer the woman and the girl to police headquarters and commence
an investigation by the Judicial Police of Elche National Police Station to find out what had
really happened inside the cafe.
Once the appropriate investigations were carried out and once all parties involved were
brought to make a statement, the necessary information was compiled verifying that the facts
as they were reported were indeed true. Investigators were given the go ahead to arrest the
girl's aunt for the crime of prostitution, sexual exploitation and corruption of minors.
Auto Fima hosted a joint celebration on Friday night – its own 25 th anniversary, and the launch
of the new Hyundai Kona. The party was held at Auto Fima in Elche where guests enjoyed
drinks and music, and the chance to enter a draw for a holiday to Kona, Hawaii.