Barajas airport crash: 23 Spanish Red Cross teams continue essential psychological

Published: 22 August 2008 0:00 CET

Twenty-three Spanish Red Cross teams continue to bring essential psychological support to families of the victims of Wednesday’s (20 August) air crash at Barajas airport in Madrid.

These teams, comprising some 170 psychologists, doctors, nurses, social workers and specialised first aiders, are helping family members through the gruesome ordeal of going to the temporary morgue each day, to wait for the identification of the remains of their loved ones. Many relatives flew in from the Canary Islands on the evening of the accident.

“These moments are particularly difficult for the families,” explains Pablo Navajo, spokesman for the Spanish Red Cross at the temporary morgue. “Many suffer [emotional trauma] and need psychosocial support. This initial assistance is very important to help affected family members avoid cases of post-traumatic stress which can manifest themselves later on,” he adds.   

Some psychological support teams have been deployed in the hotels where victims’ relatives are housed, and in the hospitals where the surviving injured passengers are being treated, as well as in the Canary Islands to assist relatives who did not travel to Madrid.

Federation President Juan Manuel Suárez del Toro visited victims' families in Madrid's Hotel Auditorium this morning to bring them words of comfort.

The Spanish Red Cross has also activated its service to re-establish family links.

Since yesterday, 775 Spanish Red Cross volunteers have participated in search and rescue activites, provided first aid services and shelter facilities to all teams involved in the operation at Barajas airport, and distributing hygiene articles, blankets, some food and other relief items to relatives.

Officials have confirmed that 153 people have died, 19 are injured, several of them critically. The plane was bound for Las Palmas de Gran Canarias in the Canary Islands.