The recent spate of false alarms for the emergency search and rescue authorities has brought the situation to a head and the Balearic Interior Minister is to take action and modify the law so that careless hikers will be penalised in the event of false alarms. Only this week over 50 personnel including police and volunteers along with a Guardia Civil helicopter were involved in a night search in the hills and mountains around Alaro for a 55-year-old British hiker who had failed to return to his Alaro refuge. The alarm was raised shortly after 9pm on Tuesday night and the massive search was called off at 2.30 pm the following day when the Briton returned to his refuge, having spent the night at an Inca guest house. The 17-hour search, which also involved teams of dogs, firemen and the Red Cross is said to have cost over two million pesetas and sparked a number of complaints from the search and rescue services for not only having been a complete waste of time, but also because search teams were sent up into the mountains in the dark and put their lives in danger. On the same night the alarm was raised over six tourists who had failed to return from Puig Major, but the police were contacted too late for anything to have been done and by first light, it was established that it had been a false alarm. The Minister has informed parliament of his intentions in order to ensure that the search and rescue services operate to the maximum level of efficiency without having to waste manpower, time and money on false alarms.


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