Tourists dead or seriously injured after jumping from their balcony: the 'balcony' is again wreaking havoc in the Balearic Islands, warns a doctor specializing in the subject. Prevention campaigns had allowed the decline of this phenomenon for two years.
'Balconing' refers to the fact that tourists, particularly British or Irish and often very alcoholic or drug addicted, jump from the balcony of their hotel to try to dive into the swimming pool or reach another balcony. This very dangerous practice often comes from challenges that these tourists launch themselves on festive holidays in the archipelago.
At least six victims of 'balconing' have arrived at Son Espases Hospital in Palma de Mallorca, capital of the Balearic Islands, where surgeon Juan José Segura works. They were British, Irish and a Frenchman, he told AFP. Three died and the others were seriously injured, some paralyzed.
This is already more than in 2016 and 2017 combined, when the hospital had identified six cases in total, none of which were fatal.
"It seems that this year is not going to be like the previous ones and that we are going to return to the initial trend of the years 2010-2015, with 10 to 15 cases each summer," said AFP Juan José Segura, author of a study on the 'balcony'.
His figures relate only to his hospital, which may suggest that other cases are taking place in the rest of the archipelago. The police and the regional government are not able to give an overall figure of 'balconing' cases this year.
In the archipelago, just this week, three people fell from a balcony. Police are investigating these cases, which may not all be balcony related.
Circumstances to be elucidated
On Wednesday, a 14-year-old Irishman fell to his death from the balcony of a hotel where he was staying with his mother in Mallorca, the Civil Guard said. It appears he was 'playing on the balcony' and fell, a spokesperson said.
On the same day, on the island of Ibiza, a young man in his twenties fell from a balcony in unknown circumstances. He is hospitalized in serious condition. According to British media, it would be a London city councilor.
And on Friday, on the island of Formentera, the emergency services took care of another man in his twenties who fell from a balcony.
Juan José Segura's study, carried out over the period 2010-2015, identified 46 patients treated in his hospital after a 'balconing'. More than 60% were British, far ahead of the Germans and Spaniards.
The fall averages eight meters in height, and all but one of the patients were male, with an average age of 24.
'To see a young person, who has absolutely no problem, in the prime of life, with a thousand plans, their whole life ahead of them, die or else become completely unable to do anything for the rest of their life , it's really dramatic', says Doctor Segura.
The doctor has been involved in awareness campaigns in Britain and in partnership with the UK Embassy in Spain. Local authorities are also trying to counter the problem.
'The hoteliers distribute leaflets, warn people', assures Doctor Segura. Sometimes they place youngsters they suspect might be 'balconing' in rooms on lower floors, he says.
And the town hall of Calvia, where the seaside resort of Magaluf is located, renowned as the capital of 'ethyl tourism', has also taken measures.
Attempting to jump from one balcony to another is punishable by a fine, the sale of alcohol in shops is prohibited after a certain hour and organized visits consisting of a pub crawl have also been prohibited./ATS