Snowstorms in Spain left three people dead and caused chaos across much of the country, trapping motorists and shutting down the capital’s air and rail links, with more expected.
On Friday (Jan 8), Madrid experienced its heaviest snowfalls since 1971 in what the AEMET weather agency described as “exceptional and most likely historic” conditions caused by Storm Filomena.
Following a chaotic 36 hours, the snowfall began moving off towards the northeast from central Spain late Saturday. “Even if, despite the extremely difficult weather conditions, the number of incidents is relatively limited, we have three deaths to mourn,” Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska told a news conference.
One man was found dead under a snowdrift in Zarzalejo, northwest of Madrid, while two others died trying to cross a swollen river in Mijas, near Mediterranean city Malaga.
Grande-Marlaska added however that the national programme to vaccinate people against the coronavirus would continue next week.
Security forces would do all they could to ensure the snow did not affect measures to stem the epidemic, “nor the vaccination campaign”, the minister said.
Health and interior ministry officials would consult on Sunday to oversee “the transfer, stocking and distribution of new Pfizer vaccine doses that arrive Monday in Spain”, he added. Apart from Madrid, the exceptional conditions put another four regions in the centre of the country on red alert Saturday: Aragon, Valencia, Castilla La Mancha and Catalonia.
On Twitter, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called on people to stay indoors and follow the instructions of the emergency services. He paid tribute to the work of the rescue agencies who had helped hundreds of people trapped in the snow overnight.
Also on the social network, the Spanish king and queen expressed “pain” and “concern” for the public.
Madrid’s Barajas airport was shut down late Friday, and the snowfall disrupted traffic on nearly 400 roads, according to transport officials. The Renfe rail network, meanwhile, said all trains to and from Madrid had been cancelled.
Grande-Marlaska said that by late Saturday, emergency services and army snow ploughs had freed all 2,500 drivers stuck on Spain’s roads by the snowstorm.
– Source: News websites