At the time of writing, there's one person dead, eight injured to different extents and one missing after the explosion at a chemical plant in Tarragona. The shocking images of the tragedy and the area where it took place caused moments of alarm among the population since, at first, it was unknown whether a toxic cloud had been released, an eventuality that couldn't be discounted until it was known that the specific component was ethylene oxide. Nor until then could they lift, progressively, the confinement keeping residents indoors, which at times in the afternoon affected seven municipalities. Firefighters, the emergency services and authorities will now analyse the consequences of the fire, whether there was some error in the handling of the chemical products or if there was some other circumstance that caused the explosion.
It will be important and mandatory to find out. But the great question which should be answered urgently, and which should be very easy to answer, is the one formulated in hundreds of complaints made by local residents on all manner of channels, from radio and TV to the different social networks, asking why the sirens didn't sound. This is always the first warning to the population that something very serious is happening. The mayor of La Canonja himself, the municipality where the explosion took place, was unaware why they hadn't been activated and seemed outraged. And he's right, since the sirens play a fundamental role in these events, and if the liquid burnt had been toxic, we would be talking about a very different tragedy and one much more painful in terms of victims.
What's the point of so many prevention exercises and simulations if, at the moment of truth, the population isn't alerted? Someone should answer this very simple question. The apparent thawing between the Spanish and Catalan governments, which even fosters situations like this Tuesday, when Pedro Sánchez appeared to urge Quim Torra to meet with him, enabled harmony and collaboration between the two administrations from the start and for the Spanish prime minister to make himself available to the Catalan president for whatever may be necessary. This new climate is welcome but will need an effective realisation of real commitments and moving from words to actions. But it's always better to hear from the prime minister of Spain that he's spoken with the president of Catalonia than the belittlement we've seen in the recent past.