Spain has been hit by a devastating storm that caused flash floods, landslides, and bridge collapses in several regions, killing at least two people and leaving three others missing. The heavy rains, which started on Sunday and continued until Monday, were the worst in years and affected Madrid, Castile-La Mancha, Catalonia, and Valencia.
The victims were a young man who got trapped in a lift that filled up with water in Toledo, and a 50-year-old man whose body was found floating in a river near Camarena. Both towns are located in the Castile-La Mancha region, where the weather service AEMET recorded a record rainfall of 90 liters per square meter on Sunday.
Three people are still unaccounted for: a woman who disappeared when her car was dragged into a river near Toledo, an 84-year-old man who was swept away by mud and water in Villamanta, west of Madrid, and a man who was with his son when their car was caught in an avalanche caused by a sudden spate in the Alberche River, southwest of Madrid. The son managed to survive by climbing up a tree.
The storm also caused widespread damage to infrastructure and property, as streets turned into rivers of mud that carried away cars, trash bins, and trees. Several roads, subway lines, and high-speed train connections were closed or disrupted. Half a dozen bridges were destroyed by water overflowing the riverbanks. The defence ministry deployed army engineers to build a temporary bridge in Aldea del Fresno to reconnect the town after its original bridge was swept away.
The storm was caused by a cut-off low phenomenon, also known as weatherman’s woe, which is a low-pressure system that becomes isolated from the main jet stream and remains stationary over an area for a long time. AEMET said the storm was moving away from the country late Monday and lowered its alert level for the Madrid region to yellow, down from a maximum red alert on Sunday.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez thanked the emergency services for their work and urged people to “continue to behave with caution”. He also expressed his solidarity with the families of the victims and those affected by the storm.