MADRID (AFP) – Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez last Saturday visited the country’s flood-stricken southeastern regions as the death toll rose to six and train and air services were disrupted for a third day.
Some of the heaviest daily rainfall on record has inundated areas in the regions since last Wednesday, causing chaos on the roads, cutting public transport and prompting rivers to burst their banks.
Flash floods swept away cars and swamped homes and fields in the regions of Valencia, Murcia and eastern Andalusia.
The latest fatality was a middle-aged man whose body was found by police in a field at a hamlet near the city of Orihuela in Valencia, a spokeswoman for the central government’s office in the region said, without giving details.
Five people died in separate accidents in the previous two days as they tried to cross flooded roads in cars, including a man whose vehicle got stuck in a tunnel last Friday in the centre of the coastal city of Almeria.
After observing the damage from a helicopter flying over the city of Orihuela in the region of Valencia, Sanchez visited a command centre for emergency operations. Later he offered his condolences to the families of the dead and said the government would do everything it could to help the survivors.
“All those who have been affected need to know that the Spanish government will help so that at least they can repair many of the material damages caused by this extraordinary meteorological phenomenon,” he told reporters as he arrived in Murcia.
The Prime Minister said water levels need to lower before the government can make an estimate of the total cost of the damage.
“The catastrophe will have serious economic consequences,” the head of the regional government of Valencia, Ximo Puig, said during an interview with Spanish public radio, before adding that “thousands of people” depend on the fertile area’s orchards for work.
In addition to some 1,500 people who were evacuated earlier, officials last Friday removed another 2,000 residents of the town of Santomera in the region of Murcia as a precaution due to a controlled release from a local dam to avoid overflowing, the Interior Ministry said.
Footage broadcast on Spanish media showed firefighters evacuating babies through the window of a flooded home and rivers of brown water gushing down streets.