The safety plan introduced by the Balearic government at beaches in nine municipalities last year cut the number of people who got into difficulties while swimming by a third but the number of people who drowned actually went up. This was revealed at a congress on prevention and safety at beaches which opened in Capdepera yesterday. In 2000, the emergency services attended 82 cases of people getting into difficulties at the beaches, and last year, this figure dropped to 61. But the number of victims rose from 20 to 21. The congress, organised by the Balearic ministries of the interior and tourism is being attended by 60 people including safety experts and representatives of coastal resorts and the tourist sector. Minister of the Interior Antoni Torres said at the opening that “safe beaches are identified with quality tourism.” The safety plan was first applied in the island of Formentera in 2000. In that year, there were three deaths by drowning, compared to 17 in 1999. The congress has two basic aims: to reduce the number of accidents and improve co-ordination between the various emergency services, according to Luz Maria Iglesias, head of the tourism ministry's co-ordination department. Today's speakers will include Carlos España of the Balearic First Aid Federation and Jaime Ballesteros of the coastal authority among others. The congress will be closed by Balearic leader Francesc Antich.


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