Azores Situation Report Wednesday 5th June 2024

Azores Civil Protection exercise will involve more than 400 participants in Terceira

The ‘TOURO24’ exercise, the largest organized annually by the Civil Protection of the Azores, which begins on Thursday on the island of Terceira, will mobilize more than 400 participants, including operatives, entities and extras, simulating “a seismo-volcaeic scenario”.

According to the Azores Regional Civil Protection and Fire Service (SRPCBA), during the exercise, which takes place between June 6th and 8th, “an increase in seismo-volcaeic activity will be simulated in the western part of the island, more specifically in the Santa Bárbara volcano, which will provoke manifestations of volcanism and the occurrence of earthquakes of high magnitude”.

Based on this scenario, the various civil protection agents will have to act in the face of the different events that will be triggered, testing their capacity to respond, coordinate and articulate.

Civil protection says that ‘TOURO24’ will last 72 hours, taking place in the LIVEX modality (‘Live Exercise’), that is, with the movement of resources on the ground, “it is estimated that it will mobilize more than 400 participants with direct and indirect intervention, including operators, entities and extras”.

The objective of the exercise, which takes place on the island of Terceira, is “to test the response capacity of the various civil protection agents in the face of a seismo-volcaeic scenario”.

The regional secretary for Environment and Climate Action, Alonso Miguel, who oversees Civil Protection and will monitor ‘TOURO24’ operations on the ground, highlights the carrying out of this exercise “as a way of strengthening the response of civil protection agents and ensure that the region is better prepared to face serious accidents or catastrophes”.

During the drill, calls for help will be made and, in different locations on the island, events such as “obstruction of access roads, movement of slopes, communications failures, search and rescue in collapsed structures, setting up of concentration zones and support for the population will be staged”, preventive evacuations”, among other incidents, details Civil Protection.

Around 30 entities participate in ‘TOURO24’, including civil protection agents (fire departments from all islands, security forces, Armed Forces, bodies of the National Maritime Authority, health professionals and the Portuguese Red Cross).

Municipal councils, government departments and entities with a duty to cooperate, technical and scientific research institutions, electricity and communications companies and media outlets also participate in the exercise.

This year, a group of evaluators made up of elements from the National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority, the Lisbon Firefighters Regiment, the Regional Civil Protection Service of Madeira, the National Institute of Medical Emergency and the command of the emergency services will also be present.

Floods force the relocation of 20 families

Ribeira Grande firefighters were called to intervene in the parishes of Matriz da Ribeira Grande, Ribeirinha and Gramas due to flooding that forced 20 families to be relocated.

The bad weather experienced yesterday in Ribeira Grande caused several floods in the parishes of Matriz, Ribeirinha and Lugar das Gramas which, in addition to causing damage to vehicles and homes, forced the relocation of 20 families in the municipality. The president of the Ribeira Grande City Council said that this “phenomenon” was a “waterspout” that hit Ribeira Grande.

According to the mayor, the critical points affected were the city centre, “where the river overflowed and flooded some streets in the centre and also the Ribeirinha area”, as well as in the “Grams area”.

20 families in need of relocation,  have been identified and that the municipality’s social action teams, together with the Social Security Institute of the Azores, are finding “solutions” to overcome the situation. .

For its part, the Regional Civil Protection and Fire Service of the Azores recorded a total of 43 occurrences at the time of writing this edition, all in this municipality, and the situations reported “are related to flooding on roads and flooding in homes”, reads a statement sent to newsrooms.

With the first rocket about to take flight, the population of Malbusca asks for more information

The Atlantic Spaceport Consortium aims to launch the first rocket this summer, to test the concept. Residents say they know nothing and ask for more information and transparency


Azores Situation Report Wednesday 29th May 2024

Seven islands in the Azores under yellow warning due to sometimes heavy rain

The Portuguese Institute of the Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA) placed the islands in the Eastern and Central groups of the Azores under yellow warning, between this Tuesday and Wednesday, due to sometimes heavy rain.

According to the IPMA bulletin, on the islands of São Miguel and Santa Maria, which make up the Eastern group, the yellow warning for precipitation is valid between 10pm today and 12pm on Wednesday.

On the islands of Faial, Pico, São Jorge, Graciosa and Terceira, the yellow warning has been in force since 6am and will be valid until midnight today.

Wave of robberies scares residents of Lomba da Maia

Cars, homes and commercial establishments are no escape from robberies. President of the parish council shares concern and fears that residents will take justice into their own hands.

Cafes, fuel pumps, “everything commercial establishment in Lomba da Maia has already been robbed”, says the mayor.

Several homes have also been the target of robberies: “Elderly people are getting scared. The other day, they robbed the house of an elderly woman, who since she moved into the house 35 years ago, never closed the back door and that’s how they entered. People have been sleeping with the lights on.”

According to statements, the number of robberies is reaching around fifty. But there could be more, which is why the president of the parish council urges the population to file a complaint with the police authorities, collaborating with residents who have no way of getting to the nearest police station.
“We encourage people to make complaints. Those who don’t have a vehicle, we transport them in the council’s van to the Maia police station, the closest”.

Alberto Pacheco da Ponte says that the robberies are due to the drug addiction problem, which is getting worse in the parish, and that they generally occur in the early hours of the morning. “And it’s not just in Lomba da Maia: in neighbouring parishes there are also reports of robberies of the same type”, he adds.

The mayor says he has already taken several initiatives to combat the problem but admits that it is proving difficult to control the situation. “We have already made complaints to the PSP, which has been making rounds in the parish, almost every day, at different times”.

More than 100 packages of food seized in São Miguel

The Azores Territorial Command, through the Ponta Delgada Territorial Post, seized 112 packages of frozen food products on the island of São Miguel.

According to a statement, following an inspection action, within the scope of the goods in circulation regime, GNR personnel approached a vehicle that “was transporting various frozen food products destined for sale to the final consumer, without these being properly refrigerated”.

The action resulted in the identification of a 51-year-old man, and a misdemeanour report was drawn up for transporting, storing and selling “foodstuffs with a lack of requirements and without the rules for safeguarding cleanliness and hygiene having been complied with”.

This infraction is considered a “serious economic offense, punishable by a maximum fine of 3,000 euros, with the facts being informed to the Regional Inspection of Economic Activities”, says the GNR statement.

Still during the investigations carried out, on May 21st, and after the “hygienic and sanitary check by the municipal veterinarian of the municipality of Lagoa, it was certified that the food items were suitable for human consumption, and the goods were delivered to an institution of social solidarity”.



Azores Situation Report Wednesday 22nd May 2024


From our correspondent in the Azores

Ponta Delgada Hospital resumes external consultations except paediatrics on Tuesday.

The hospital in Ponta Delgada, in the Azores, which is gradually restoring outpatient clinical activity after the fire, announced today that it will resume external consultations in all specialties, except paediatrics, on Tuesday.

According to a post on the Facebook page of the Hospital do Espírito Santo (HDES), from Tuesday “[external] consultations in all specialties will be resumed, with the exception of Paediatrics”.

The publication states that, on the same day, on the 1st floor of the Ponta Delgada hospital building, on the island of São Miguel, there will be “the resumption of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, of the Psychiatry consultation (operating in the Day Hospital space) and [the] Pulmonology consultation (operating in the Respiratory Rehabilitation space)”.

HDES, however, appeals to users not to go to the hospital in person if they have not been contacted to do so.

The Hospital do Divino Espírito Santo, in Ponta Delgada, suffered a fire on May 4th, which forced the transfer of all patients who were hospitalized to various locations in the Azores, Madeira and the mainland.

Shortly after the fire, the Government of the Azores declared the situation of public calamity to “accelerate procedures” that would allow the activity of the largest Azorean health unit to be normalized in a “short space of time”.

On Wednesday, in a press conference, the president of the board of directors, Manuela Gomes de Menezes, said that, “having guaranteed the security and normal functioning of all systems”, the prospect was “moving towards the partial reopening of the consultation external hospital, the resumption of the patient movement service and the return of non-clinical hospital employees”.

On the same date, May 15th, the clinical director said that oncology treatments at HDES would be regularized by the end of this week.

“Regarding oncological treatments, all will be completely resolved, and normal operation will occur at the end of next week”, said Paula Macedo.

Also, according to Paula Macedo, from the 27th, the unit will be “functioning practically [in a] normal way”, although there may be “some difficulties”, not in terms of treatments, but of consultations.

Government of the Azores warns of possible increase in the social mobility tariff.

The Secretary of Tourism, Mobility and Infrastructure of the Government of the Azores warned deputies of the Regional Assembly this Friday about the possibility that the social mobility tariff could increase between the archipelago and the mainland.

Passengers from the Azores to pay just 134 euros (the maximum value for a resident fare between the region and the continent) and that the difference between this value and the real cost of the fare is then reimbursed to the airlines, directly by the State.

Currently, Azoreans traveling between the region and the continent have to purchase airline tickets at prices much higher than 134 euros and are subsequently reimbursed for the difference at CTT counters.















Azores Situation Report Wednesday May 15th 2024
Azores with working group to assess damage at Ponta Delgada hospital.

The Government of the Azores created a working group this Friday to assess the damage caused by the fire at the Hospital Divino Espírito Santo (HDES), in Ponta Delgada, and present measures to restore activity in that unit.

In the resolution of the Government Council that declares the situation of regional public calamity, published today in the Official Journal, the Azorean executive (PSD/CDS-PP/PPM) determines the constitution of a working group with elements from various government departments and the administration of HDES.

The working group will present by May 31st a “progress report” on the “typology of procedures and methodology that underlies the inventory of damage and losses caused” by the fire and the “identification of the need to adopt” “reparation measures ” to restore activity in the hospital.

That group will carry out a “substantiated list of dysfunctions caused in the normal functioning of the Regional Health Service” and “identify the material and financial support necessary to restore normal functioning” of HDES.

The working group, which will be chaired by the Secretary of Health and Social Security, assumes the responsibility of “identifying situations in which public expenditure is necessary for the execution of works and the acquisition of goods and services”.

The group, which may have the presence of specialists, also has the role of “overall control and management of the support provided, in accordance with the legally defined criteria in relation to the damages and losses listed”.

The situation of regional public calamity was established in a resolution by the Government Council five days after the president of the Azores executive, José Manuel Bolieiro, announced his declaration.

“The situation of regional public calamity has a regional scope, as it is not restricted only to the infra-municipal territorial area and the implementation of all buildings and infrastructures where, as a whole, the HDES of Ponta Delgada services operate”, reads the resolution.

The fire at the Ponta Delgada hospital, which broke out at 9:40 am local time on Saturday (10:40 am in Lisbon) and was only declared extinguished at 4:11 pm, forced the transfer of all patients who were hospitalized to various locations in the Azores, Madeira and continent.

At the time of the fire, 333 patients were in the health establishment and 240 had to be transferred.

The Government of the Azores announced on Sunday the declaration of a public calamity situation to “accelerate procedures” that allow the activity of the largest Azorean health unit to be normalized in a “short space of time”.

The clinical management announced on Wednesday that the hospital will be slowly reactivated, with the oncology and haemodialysis units expected to resume activity in a phased manner next week.

An accounting of the fire damage has not yet been released.

Drug trafficking network dismantled in São Miguel

The Azores PSP dismantled a drug trafficking network on the island of São Miguel, having arrested five men, aged between 22 and 46, strongly accused of the crime of drug trafficking.

In a statement, the Regional Command of the PSP of the Azores states that following an investigation, led by a Magistrate from the Public Ministry of Ribeira Grande and whose “investigation was carried out by the PSP anti-crime brigade, numerous police measures were carried out, throughout of two years, in order to investigate the contours related to criminal activity, carried out by a network responsible for drug distribution, in different locations, on the island of São Miguel”.

The PSP explains that the trafficking network “had a main person responsible who used the collaboration of three intermediaries to distribute hashish, heroin and synthetic drugs, among a considerable number of drug addicts, residing in Ponta Delgada, Lagoa and Ribeira Grande”.

In view of the evidence collected, a large-scale police operation was mounted, with the “collaboration of the special police unit, PSP of Lisbon, the Police Intervention and Inspection Squadron and with technical-forensic experts, which allowed eight home searches to be carried out and six non-domestic searches, including on mainland territory, made it possible to arrest the suspects, seize hashish, synthetic drugs, monetary amounts, among other items related to the crime under investigation”, says the PSP.

During the different phases of the investigation, several police interventions were carried out which led to “the arrest of another defendant, also responsible for distributing drugs he received from the main person responsible for this criminal cell and is currently serving an effective prison sentence in the prison establishment from Ponta Delgada”.

The defendants will await the remaining phases of the process subject to different coercive measures, and two of them, given the seriousness of their participation in the facts under investigation, were subject to the coercive measure of house arrest, while the main person responsible for the criminal network is in preventive detention.

Navy coordinates rescue of woman off the Azores.

The Portuguese Navy coordinated, on Sunday, the rescue of a woman of French nationality, aged 28, who was on board the sailboat Alabone, with symptoms of seasickness.

According to a statement from the Portuguese Navy, the sailboat was sailing “approximately 250 nautical miles from the island of São Miguel and the passenger was experiencing severe symptoms of seasickness and without the medication having any effect, she was rescued in a carefully planned operation”.

After a medical assessment carried out by the Maritime Emergency Sick Guidance Centre and “determination of immediate rescue, the passenger was initially transferred to the merchant ship OWL 5 which was nearby. This manoeuvre allowed the EH101 helicopter to carry out the extraction without incident at around 11:20 pm.”

The patient was taken to the island of Terceira, and was taken to the Santo Espírito Hospital, where she received medical care.

The operation included collaboration between MRCC Delgada, RCC Lajes, CODUMAR, the sailboat crew and the merchant ship.

Santa Clara will donate proceeds from Sunday tickets to firefighters.

Santa Clara’s SAD announced that tickets for next Sunday’s game, with União de Leiria, will cost one euro per unit, with the total amount of proceeds going to be donated to the Volunteer Firefighters of Ponta Delgada.

The decision intends to honour those who “were among the heroes in resolving the fire at the Hospital do Divino Espírito Santo”, reads a SAD post on social media.