Searching for Spain's 'guardian angels'

A white beard and green uniform is all Zahira can remember of the man who rescued her from the wreckage of the Madrid commuter train where a bomb destroyed half her face and one eye.

    A website is helping victims and rescuers deal with the tragedy

    But the 21-year-old still hopes she can locate him somewhere

    among Madrid's nearly three million inhabitants, more than a

    month after the attack which maimed her - with the help of an

    Internet site.


    The site, whose address

    translates as

    "who helped", aims to bring victims together with the

    people who, in the words of one injured 44-year-old, "descended

    into hell" to rescue them.


    Lists of names, ages, heights and hair and skin colour are

    followed by poignant accounts of the carnage that claimed 191

    lives on 11 March when bombs exploded on four packed

    early-morning commuter trains.


    The attacks

    injured 1900 people.


    "Hello, I am the husband of Ana Isabel, a dark woman with m

    id-length hair who was at a late stage of pregnancy...

    Unfortunately my wife and our child passed away in the Paz

    hospital," writes 29-year-old Jesus, searching for anyone who

    saw or helped his dying wife.


    "Hello, I am the husband of Ana Isabel, a dark woman with m

    id-length hair who was at a late stage of pregnancy...

    Unfortunately my wife and our child passed away in the Paz


    The site, whose front page features only the simple black

    ribbon that has become a ubiquitous sign of solidarity and

    mourning in Spain, was set up by three media professionals,

    moved by dozens of victims wanting to trace their rescuers.


    "The wounded, when they appeared on television, always

    seemed to be asking 'who helped save me'," said one of them, who

    asked to remain anonymous to keep the focus on victims.


    Rescuers and victims


    The three are paying for and running the Web site, and say

    that although adding new entries and putting hopeful rescuers

    and victims in touch takes up much of their spare time, they are

    committed to keeping it going.


    Eighty-two victims and helpers have so far registered their



    Rescuers, haunted by the fate of the badly injured they

    tried to help save, also have a page.


    Victims are keen to meet the
    people who helped rescue them

    "I can't stop thinking about how Susana [I didn't ask for

    her last name] is ... she had been thrown to the floor, and was

    bleeding from her head and mouth," wrote a woman who had been

    travelling in one of the trains that was attacked.


    "I try not to think about March 11, but I worry about how

    Susana is."


    The Web site is just part of an outpouring of support by

    ordinary Spaniards - from the bus driver who turned his bus

    into an impromptu ambulance to the psychologists who crowded

    morgues offering to counsel survivors and families.


    Now a shocked and grieving Madrid, with black ribbons still

    fluttering from thousands of windows and car aerials, wants to

    thank its anonymous helpers.


    The advertising hoardings in metro stations have been taken

    over by enormous posters proclaiming: "Madrid is grateful".

    SOURCE: Reuters


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