MADRID (Reuters) – At least three people died and three others were missing when torrential rain caused torrential flooding in central Spain, blocking roads, metro lines and high-speed trains, authorities said on Monday.
Emergency services said helicopters were sent to rescue people who had taken refuge on the roofs of their homes in the Toledo area, about 50 km southwest of Madrid.
Sudden torrential rains that fell on Sunday and early Monday turned streets into rivers of mud, sweeping away cars and rubbish bins in the regions of Madrid, Castile-La Mancha, Catalonia and Valencia. Hail also fell in many areas.
Three people died in the countryside around the central city of Toledo, where meteorological service AEMET recorded record rainfall of 90 liters per square meter on Sunday.
Police said one of the victims was a young man who got stuck in a water-filled elevator, while another was inside a car when it was flooded.
The third person who died was a 50-year-old man who was reported missing. His body was found in the afternoon floating in a river near his home in the town of Camarena.
“It kept raining and we were a little scared, but we were inside so we were safe,” said Isabella Stewart, an American missionary who lives in Toledo, as she boarded the bus.
“I live four blocks away and the hurricane was really strong,” said Robin Gonzalez, a Toledo resident. “Everything was flooded. It’s crazy.”
Later on Monday, AEMET said the low-lying phenomenon – also known as meteorologists’ woe – that has caused heavy rainfall is starting to move away from the country.
In the Madrid region, emergency services said the emergency services handled nearly 1,200 incidents overnight, and firefighters and police were searching for a man in the rural area of Aldeia del Fresno, southwest of Madrid.
The man went missing with his son when their car was pulled into the Alberch River after an avalanche caused by a flash flood.
“The minor was rescued after he climbed a tree,” Madrid’s emergency service said.
Rescuers are also searching for a woman who disappeared in similar circumstances near Toledo and an 84-year-old man who was swept away by streams and mud in Vilamanta, west of Madrid.
Several roads were closed in the Madrid region after the waters that flooded the banks of the river destroyed six bridges.
The Defense Department said it deployed military engineers to build a so-called bailey bridge, a type of portable truss bridge, in Aldea del Fresno to connect the two banks after the original bridge was washed away.
Subway operator Metro de Madrid said in a statement that several subway lines were closed in central Madrid early on Monday, although service was restored in most parts of the city during the morning.
Some high-speed services have resumed between Madrid and the southern region of Andalusia, but trains have been running at slower speeds than usual.
(Reporting by Inte Landoro, Emma Pinedo and David Latona; Reporting by Mohamed for the Arabic Bulletin; Reporting by Mohamed for the Arabic Bulletin) Editing by Andre Khalib, Angus McSwan and Christina Fincher
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