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Statements by Acting President of the Government following wildfire in Gran Canaria

Island of Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Thursday 22 August 2019

PEDRO SÁNCHEZ, Acting President of the Government.

President of the Government: Firstly, I wanted to pass on a message of gratitude, of tremendous gratitude, to the State law enforcement agencies, and also to the emergency services and all the volunteers that have travelled here to fight this enormous fire and try to stabilise it, as indeed it is at this time.

Secondly, I would like to convey, through my presence, and also through the presence of the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the affection, the protection and warmth that all the residents of the municipals affected will be afforded by the Government of Spain.

Thirdly, I wanted to convey something that the President of the Regional Government of the Canary Islands also said that I think it essential, which is that the fire has not yet been put out, and hence we must call for prudence, whilst also recognising that when you have such extraordinarily positive cooperation, as we can see here between the State law enforcement agencies and between the public authorities, and the small municipalities on the island of Gran Canaria, affected by this fire, and the Government of Spain; together we are much stronger and can do a great deal more to prevail, in this case, over this monstrous fire which has taken away many very important things from the citizens of Gran Canaria: an environment, a landscape, a very important natural heritage that we hope to repopulate in the near future, firstly, to re-establish the imposing nature of Gran Canaria, and secondly, through the support and backing of all public institutions.

The Government of Spain, both to the residents of the municipalities affected, and also to the island of Gran Canaria, can but convey its commitment to help, to get to work as soon as possible, day-by-day, to ensure that the island returns to how it was before the fire, together with the residents of the municipalities affected.

Q. Will this be in the form of subsidies?

President of the Government: Firstly, what we have to say is that all the instruments, all the resources that the municipalities and the Island Government of Gran Canaria and the Regional Government of the Canary Islands will need, to put out this fire, are guaranteed.

And secondly, in the same way as we are doing with other fires that have unfortunately broken out, in this case on the mainland, well obviously the public authorities will respond to try and help, to the extent of our possibilities, because clearly many things have been lost that cannot be recovered, but we will obviously lend a hand so that residents can return to their daily lives they enjoyed before the fire.

We will do things step-by-step; firstly we need to put the fire out and I believe that over the course of this week we have shown the commitment, resolution and also clearly the cooperation between public authorities to provide the due response to the residents affected by the fire.

Q. (inaudible) Podemos?

President of the Government: I feel that it is important, given where we are at this time, to convey this image and this message of affection, warmth and recognition to all those people who have come here to fight this fire. These questions can be answered some other time.

Q. Will a fixed base be maintained?

President of the Government: What is important is to also convey that we must be cautious, since the fire has not yet been put out, but what the people of the municipalities affected and of the island of Gran Canaria should know is that the Government of Spain will allocate all the resources and materials necessary to guarantee their safety, which is the most important aspect. The protection of this wonderful natural environment on this island is also important, which is so envied by people from other parts of Spain.

Q. A tremendous job done by the members...

President of the Government: A tremendous job done by the members. As the regional president, Ángel Víctor, rightly said before, they are silent heroes and the only thing I can say to them, on behalf of the Government of Spain and of the whole of Spanish society, is that we are tremendously grateful, not only for saving lives, not only for guaranteeing the safety of the residents of the municipalities affected by the fire, but also because they risk their own lives, which is something we must all stress on a day like today.

Thank you.

(Transcript edited by the State Secretariat for Communication)