Memorial to Madrid train bombing victims lying crumpled on floor

Monument commemorating those killed in 2004 attacks has been in disrepair for two months

The memorial, with the lining crumpled on the floor, on Monday.
The memorial, with the lining crumpled on the floor, on Monday.u. Martín

A monument commemorating the victims of the March 11, 2004 train bombings in Madrid is lying sprawled on the floor inside the city’s Atocha railway station, the focal point of the Islamist attacks that killed 191 people.

The structure is an 11-meter-tall, hollow glass cylinder that rises above the station. From within, it should be possible to walk inside and look up at the messages of condolence that line the inside.

But for the last two months, the plastic lining on which the messages are written has not been receiving sufficient air pressure to remain vertical. As a result, it has collapsed on to the floor and commuters are only able to see a crumpled pile as they pass by. At the entrance hangs a sign reading: “Closed for maintenance.”

Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena has said the city is working to repair the memorial as soon as possible

“Last week I saw some technicians going in,” said a security guard at the nearby subway. “There was a problem with the compressed air unit.”

“Up until two weeks ago, there were two staff members there in charge of the structure,” said a worker at a bar across from the monument, who declined to give her name. “But nobody comes round any more, everything is closed and it’s stayed that way.”

This is the fifth time that the plastic lining has collapsed in recent years, according to the 11-M Terrorism Victims Association.

“We made inquiries at the Public Works Ministry and Adif [the railway infrastructure manager], but we never received a reply,” explains association president Pilar Manjón.

The memorial, which is not officially listed as a city monument, has been plagued by problems since it opened in 2007. Just two years after its inauguration, the top of the glass cylinder cracked.

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“It is in a complete state of dereliction,” adds Manjón, who says that Adif had opposed the entire idea of a memorial in Atocha “because it thought it was a negative image for the company.”

Sources at railway operator Renfe insist that it is the city of Madrid, not itself, which is responsible for maintaining the monument.

Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena has since said her city government is working to repair the memorial as soon as possible.

In a statement made on Tuesday, Carmena said the municipal head of cultural affairs, Celia Mayer, was now working on the case, the Efe news agency reported.

The city council has allocated €220,000 of the 2016 budget to refurbishing the structure.

English version by Susana Urra.

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