Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 22 October 2019

Five killed as torrential rain batters south-east Spain

Flooding disrupts travel services and forces closure of schools

Peolple carry children on a flooded street in Almoradi in south-east Spain on September 13, 2019. AFP
Peolple carry children on a flooded street in Almoradi in south-east Spain on September 13, 2019. AFP

Five people were killed in torrential rain and flash floods that battered south-eastern Spain in recent days, with the rising waters causing havoc for travellers and forcing 3,500 people from their homes.

A 61-year-old man and his sister, 51, died on Thursday when their vehicle was swept away by fast-moving waters in Caudete, a municipality about 100 kilometres south-west of the port city of Valencia.

On Friday, a middle-aged man died in the coastal city of Almeria after his car got stuck in a tunnel that flooded within minutes, and a a 36-year-old man died when his car was swept away in the Andalusia region, emergency services said. The body of another man was found in the area of Redovan, about 50km south-west of Alicante.

Parts of southeastern Spain have suffered some of the heaviest rainfall on record since Wednesday. The deluge caused chaos on the roads, cut public transport and prompted rivers to burst their banks, flooding homes.

More than 3,500 people have been evacuated from their homes, the interior ministry said, and about 3,000 state security forces, including police, firefighters and soldiers from a military emergency unit, were taking part in the rescue operation.

Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska flew in to survey the damage, taking a helicopter ride over the waterlogged town of Orihuela, south of Redovan, on Friday afternoon.

Footage broadcast on Spanish media showed emergency services personnel using a jet ski to inspect a flooded highway tunnel as rivers of brown water gushed down the streets.

The regional airport in Almeria was closed for several hours on Friday, forcing the cancellation of two flights and the diversion of two others to Malaga, Spanish airports operator AENA said.

The airport in Murcia was shut down for the day and 22 flights that had been due to land in Palma on the holiday island of Mallorca were diverted to other Spanish airports, it added.

Schools were closed across the Valencia region on Friday, as well as in Murcia and parts of Andalusia.

Rail service was suspended on several routes in Valencia and Murcia, state-owned train operator Renfe said.

Updated: September 14, 2019 10:54 AM

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