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Sunday, 1 December, 2002, 21:18 GMT
Protesters vent anger over oilspill
Protesters in Santiago march behind banner reading No more
"No more" the demonstrators told the authorities

Through the rain-swept streets of medieval Santiago hundreds of people are converging.

It is midday in this ancient regional capital and for the people of Galicia it is time to make their voices heard in a mass demonstration.

Looking down into the city centre the square is transformed into a sea of umbrellas moving in unison, and from the people beneath comes the constant chant "no more, no more".


This affects not just the fishermen but our whole society

Protester
The demonstrators here are angry that the ageing tanker Prestige - which sank off the Spanish coast on 19 November while being towed out to sea - was sailing past their coast in the first place.

They are angry at the failure to stop it sinking and now they are increasingly dissatisfied with the official efforts to deal with the aftermath.

'Almost a joke'

"Everybody is absolutely furious," says Elba, 28. "This is a catastrophe - it's almost a joke the way it's being handled. Our coasts are completely contaminated. We feel full of despair."

A protester marches with a crucified bird covered in oil
The oil has taken its toll on wildlife
Another protester questions whether the authorities in Spain are revealing all they know about the toxicity of the oil.

"The government has been manipulating information about the full danger posed by this slick," claims the woman, who did not give her name.

"This affects not just the fishermen but our whole society."

Dependence on sea

Away from the protest, down the side streets of Santiago many bars and cafes advertise the local speciality - goose barnacles.

It is difficult not to think that the future prospects of this entire city depend on what is happening on the coast.

Enlarge image
Enlarge image

Route to disaster
In the fishing port of Muxia, another group of people have gathered. But here no one is shouting or holding placards.

Instead they are simply looking out to sea.

From a distance the scene looks normal, but there is no escaping the smell - like very strong diesel.

Scanning along the shore it is easy to see there is a fresh coating of thick black sludge washed up by the recent tide.

On the beach about a dozen workers in overalls and masks are attempting to rake off what they can, helped by a single digging machine.

Call for help

Diego Lopez, 25, is a volunteer. He travelled here after a friend called him and said they needed help.

Diego says the work is hard but he'll keep helping with the clear up for as long as he can.

Men look out to sea in search of the huge oil slick heading for the Spanish coast
The scene is normal, but the smell is not
But there is desperation in his voice.

"There's no one organising the volunteers. The situation is very poor and we end up organising ourselves into small groups like this," he said.

"It makes me feel angry. There should be laws to stop these ships sailing anywhere near our coast."

Diego goes back to his work clearing up a patch of beach. As he turns, a wave hits the shore. Then it recedes, leaving yet another coating of oil behind.

Spain's coast and maritime fauna are threatened by the oil spill from the break-up of the Prestige

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See also:

01 Dec 02 | Europe
26 Nov 02 | Europe
25 Nov 02 | Europe
19 Nov 02 | Science/Nature
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