Shockwaves spread throughout Spain

The Spanish health ministry announced this afternoon that it would be turning away blood donors, as the Spanish public reacted with shock and solidarity to this morning's explosions in Madrid. Would-be donors were asked to return later in the week.

After an emergency appeal this morning, hundreds of Madrileños answered the call for blood donors. The ministry said that, although there were as many as 900 injured people needing blood, no more donations were necessary today. Supplies were also reaching the capital from neighbouring regions.

Meanwhile thousands of people gathered in the streets of Seville, Santiago and other Spanish cities to denounce the attacks. Valencia cancelled its most important festival, Las Fallas, to observe three days' mourning, while 5,000 people flooded the square outside Catalonia's regional parliament in Barcelona. Valencia's city leaders said the festival would be cancelled because they were "united with the people in the clamour of their revulsion" at the attacks.

"Hundreds" of people were reported to have gathered outside the town hall in Bilbao, the Basque country's biggest city, and similar demonstrations were taking place in San Sebastián and at universities throughout the region.

The lehendakari (Basque prime minister), Juan José Ibarretxe, said that "all Basque people find Eta's atrocities appalling in the extreme". Politicians from left and right condemned the attacks, and the Spanish royal family cancelled all engagements to visit victims in hospital.

Media and communications struggled to keep up with the demand for news. Internet traffic in Spain was eight times higher than normal, and some morning papers planned special evening editions. Telephone companies attempted to guarantee networks as traffic soared.

Spanish football clubs due to play in the Uefa cup tonight asked for the matches to be postponed. After consultation with the Spanish government, however, Uefa confirmed that the games will go ahead.

Outside Spain, around 1,000 people demonstrated in Brussels, carrying placards in Spanish saying "Basta", "Enough".

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