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2 Filipinos hurt in Barcelona van attack — PHL official

At least two Filipinos were hurt when a van crashed into a crowd in Las Ramblas District in Barcelona on Thursday, according to an official of the Philippine Embassy in Madrid, Spain.

In an interview over radio dzBB, Consul General Dr. Emmanuel Fernandez corrected the earlier figure of three Filipinos injured, saying there were only two.

Fernandez said the injured Filipinos were a father and his five-year-old child. The father has minor injuries, while the child was seriously injured and needs surgery.

In a later interview on News To Go on Friday, Fernandez said the five-year-old needs to have knee surgery, while the father only had minor injuries when he was hit on the side.

Fernandez added that the father, son, mother, and another child were visiting the popular tourist spot at the time of the incident. They were Irish citizens who came from Ireland but hail from Cebu.

"May isang pamilyang Pilipino na turista na kasama sa biktima ng naturang terrorist attack," he was quoted as saying.

The Department of Foreign Affairs did not release the names of the injured but said the Philippine Honorary Consulate went to the hospital to check on them.

The DFA said Honorary Consul Jordi Puig Roches reported that the mother and her daughter have been released from the hospital but that the father and his son are still under observation and are being assisted by the Irish Honorary Consul there.

Serious incident

Fernandez added that the incident, which officials are considering as a terrorist attack, is one of the most serious incidents in Spain.

He also said the police in Spain were swift in containing the situation.

"Ang immediate reaction nung nangyari 'yung insidente, nagsarahan 'yung mga business establishments along Las Ramblas atsaka 'yung mga neighboring areas. Kinordon off 'yung ibang streets, ibang alleys," Fernandez said in an interview on News To Go.

He clarified, though, that the situation is in control.

"Wala silang ine-expect na second attack although they continue to look for the driver of the van kasi unfortunately nakatakas 'yung driver ng van. Meron silang nahuling dalawang suspects but they were not the drivers," Fernandez said.

The consul general added that with prior terror attacks in Europe, such as in Paris, Belgium, and Germany, "more or less alam na rin ng Spain na nasa listahan na rin [sila]."

Security has thus been tightened. 

"Makikita mo when you go to Spain, ang security ay very tight. Madaming pulis na naka-deploy... In terms of preparation, actually preparado ang Spain," he said.

"Unfortunately, ang mga terrorists kasi napaka-creative nila eh. No matter how much you prepare, meron silang maiisip na ibang paraan para gawin 'yung kanilang gustong gawin. Although they did it in Nice, this time, ginawa nila ulit. They used a van, they rammed through a street, and killed a lot of people," Fernandez added.

PHL condemns attack

The Philippines joined the international community in condemning the terrorist attack.

"The Philippines condemns in the strongest terms this disturbing act of terror perpetrated by extremists against innocent men, women and children in Barcelona," Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said in a statement.

Malacañang on Friday condoled with the victims.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of the innocent victims who perished and those who got injured in Barcelona," presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was quoted in a Reuters report that he was in contact with authorities, and the priority was to attend to the injured.

The incident took place at the height of the tourist season in Barcelona, which is one of Europe's top travel destinations with at least 11 million visitors a year. — BAP/KG, GMA News