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Spain’s tragedy hits home

Columbia’s Spanish community copes with the attacks abroad.
Friday, March 12, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:33 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

The Spanish community in Columbia was in shock Thursday after learning that terrorists had blown up three trains in Madrid killing more than 190 people.

Arturo Guillen Moreno, an MU doctoral student in computer sciences from Madrid, was listening to the radio Wednesday night when he first heard.

“The next morning one of my friends called me and told me to watch CNN, and it was then I realized the impact of the attack,” he said.

Because the attack occurred at 7 a.m. Spanish time — midnight in Columbia — Guillen Moreno and others went to bed not knowing the attacks had occurred.

Paco Nula, one of the owners of Dali’s, a Spanish restaurant in Columbia, was working when he heard the news.

“One of my waitresses wrote me a message telling me what had happened in Spain, and later my wife called me,” Nula said. “I still cannot believe it.”

Spanish residents said they were frustrated at being so far away from home. Many scrambled to reach relatives and friends to find out if they had been affected by the tragedy.

Guillen Moreno reached his loved ones over the Internet.

“I have been talking to my friends using Instant Messenger,” Guillen Moreno said. “All of them are safe.”

Because the attack occurred during morning rush hour in Madrid, many feared that friends or relatives may have been on one of the bombed trains.

Although all of his friends and family seem to be safe, Guillen Moreno knows people who were near the site of the bombing just a few minutes before the tragedy.

“A friend of mine took the previous train, which was just five minutes before the train that was attacked,” Guillen Moreno said. “He has been really lucky.”

Steven Marsh, professor of Spanish cultural studies at MU, also has close ties to Madrid.

“My apartment is in Lavapies, right next to the Atocha Station,” he said. “It is a nice workers neighborhood full of emblematic buildings.”

Marsh, a citizen of England, had been living in Spain for 15 years. In 2003, he came to the United States to teach. His girlfriend and friends are still in Spain.

Marsh talked to his girlfriend, who works in a high school next to the Atocha Station, one of the bombing sites.

“She told me that she was OK,” he said. “But she hadn’t been able to go to work because the alley had been blocked off.”

To assist people seeking information about friends and family who may have been injured in the attack, the Spanish government has published the names of the victims at hhtp://www.mir.es.


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