MADRID (Reuters) – At least three people died and three others were missing when torrential rains caused heavy flooding in central Spain, closing roads, subway lines and high-speed trains, authorities said on Monday.
Emergency services said that helicopters were sent to rescue people who had taken refuge on the roofs of their homes in the Toledo area, about 50 kilometers southwest of Madrid.
Sudden heavy rains on Sunday and early Monday turned streets into rivers of mud, sweeping away cars and trash bins in the regions of Madrid, Castile-La Mancha, Catalonia and Valencia. Hail also fell in many areas.
Three people died in the countryside surrounding the central city of Toledo, where the AEMET meteorological service recorded a record rainfall of 90 liters per square meter on Sunday.
Police said that one of the victims was a young man who was stuck in an elevator filled with water, while another was inside a car when it was submerged in water.
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,” Isabella Stewart, an American missionary living in Toledo, said as she rode the bus.
“I live four blocks away and the hurricane was so strong,” Toledo resident Ruben Gonzalez said. “Everything was flooded. This is crazy.”
Later on Monday, AEMET said the low-lying phenomenon – also known as the weathermen’s woe – that caused heavy rainfall was beginning to move away from the country.
In the Madrid region, emergency services dealt with nearly 1,200 incidents overnight, and firefighters and police were searching for a man in the rural Aldea del Fresno area southwest of Madrid.
The man and his son went missing when their car was towed into the Alberche River after an avalanche caused by a flash flood.
Madrid’s emergency service said: “The minor was rescued after climbing a tree.”
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 creeks and mud in Villamanta, west of Madrid.
Several roads were closed in the Madrid area after the waters that overflowed the river’s banks 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.
Several subway lines were closed in central Madrid early Monday, although service was restored in most parts of the city during the morning, subway operator Metro de Madrid said in a statement.
Some high-speed trips between Madrid and the southern Andalusia region resumed, but trains were running at lower speeds than usual.
(Reporting by Inti Landoro, Emma Pinedo and David Latona – Preparing by Mohamed for the Arabic Bulletin – Preparing by Mohamed for the Arabic Bulletin) Editing by Andrei Khalib, Angus MacSwan and Christina Fincher
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