It is still too early to be able to count the toll with any accuracy. The link I post below speaks of 50 dead, others speak of more, and others less. Let us only hope the lower estimates are the accurate ones!
(Update 15 minutes after first post: the official death toll has now risen to 72 according to Ministry of the Interior figures just released on TV. Of course this is still far from definitive. I have been watching the live images on TV and they are among the most horrendous I have seen. I don’t know if the statistics will bear me out, but I have the feeling that this is the worst ever incident of its kind in the history of Spanish terrorism. The previous ‘low’ in this context was the Hypercor hypermarket bombing here in Barcelona – 1987, with 21 fatal victims. The wounded are being attended lying on blankets in the Atocha station in Madrid. Blood is everywhere, and the victims are a total cross-section of Spanish society: from executives to recently arrived illegal immigrants).
(Second Update: 11:44 CET: Spanish TV have just quoted Interior Ministry sources giving a figure of 131 dead. Words ecsapeme, and I fear it may get worse. The number of seriously injured also appears to be high).
I have no hesitation in attributing this heinous act to Eta. Official sources are, naturally, more circumspect. If time should prove me wrong I will, of course, on this as on so many other topics, gladly and willingly accept the fact. But for the time being: I have no doubt.
I have decided to post this immediately since I feel after my recent post on Spain and dialogue that it is behoven on me to say something. In fact I was preparing yet another of those euro related posts (this time on Volkswagen) when I went out to buy the family vegetables for the week. It was listening to the women with me in the shop (Spain is still a pretty traditional and ‘macho’ country in this sense unfortunately) that made me realise I had to make this post: to at least say something. I am aware that after so many years of this interminable killing the pure law of survival means that you tend to put a certain distance between yourself and the insanity of what surrounds you.
But what has happened today passes the bounds of even what one has become accustomed to. It reminds me so much of those dreadful Birmingham pub bombings in the UK in the mid 70’s. So whilst much could be said on the background to, and future implications of, this outrage: I will refrain. This is not the time or the place.
It is purely and simply the time and the place to condemn all such acts of terrorism as barbaric, and of lacking any kind of possible justification within the known frontiers of human reason. It is also the place to say that, inconsequential as this is, my heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones, family or friends (or simply fellow citizens) as a result of this appauling crime against humanity.