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2nd Monte Tree Tragedy Narrowly Averted

Tragedy was narrowly averted this afternoon, as a second tree fell in Largo da Fonte, Monte, close to where a tree fell in 2017 killing 13 people. 

According to an eye-witness account, all those at the scene, including a group of Scouts managed to flee to safety, although many ended up suffering minor injuries, while one woman was more seriously hurt, and was quickly transported to the Dr. Nélio Mendonça Hospital.

Responding to the situation, local newspaper JM, ascertained that there had already been several complaints from residents about some of the trees,  and this tree had been flagged as a potential risk and was currently being supported by steel cables, as are others.

As a result, a technician from Funchal City Hall was quickly mobilised to assess the situation, but was forbidden to speak to journalists or anyone else.  

Arriving quickly at the scene, the Mayor of Funchal, Miguel Silva Guiveia, was met by fear and anger from local residents, especially as many were reliving the horror of the 2017, while one of the children whose parent was killed in the original disaster took the Mayor to task. 

The president of the Parish Council of Monte, Idalina Silva, was also at the incident scene stating that she was tired of the lack of decision making regarding Largo da Fonte, stating that “at this moment, I would like to remember the people who died here four years ago, and say enough of this inertia. Enough, enough, enough!”

She went on to say that she was in favour of cutting down the most fragile trees, and then quickly ordered the area to be sealed off, to avoid any other incidents involving residents, visitors and onlookers.

Puzzled at the incident, Miguel Silva Gouveia, said he was surprised and shocked, and promised that he will investigate the situation thoroughly.  Reacting to criticism, he said that Largo da Fonte, has been one of the most closely “monitored” areas on the island for the last four years, and yet the past had repeated itself. 

He went on to say, “we have been trying to carry out a phytosanitary analysis of all the trees here at Largo da Fonte. We have invested in specialised company analytics. This area has been scrutinized not only by the Chamber, but by society as a whole, as well as by analysists from the Public Ministry who have assessed the situation.  We have completed the recommended tree thinning, and believed that the trees were stable, as per the phytosanitary report, these are, he stressed fervently, ‘proven technical reports.’

The CMF will now investigate the situation alongside Public Ministry specialists and using information collected by the Urban Green Spaces department, the Mayor of Funchal is determined to confront the experts who were hired to investigate the health and safety of these trees.

Local PSP gents were called to the area to control the situation, especially as the tree was later felled by Sapadores Fire Department tree specialists.

Samantha Gannon

info at madeira-weekly.com

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