Spain

Storm brings heaviest rainfall on record to parts of eastern Spain

Parts of eastern Spain received what in some places was the heaviest rainfall on record on Thursday, as storms wreaked widespread destruction and killed at least two people.

The regional emergency service said a 51-year-old woman and her 61-year-old brother had been found dead in an overturned car that floodwaters had washed away in Caudete, about 60 miles (100km) south of Valencia, the private Spanish news agency Europa Press reported.

The Valencia fire department tweeted that emergency crews had also rescued three people from a river, one of whom was winched to safety by a helicopter. Four police officers were injured in the rescue operation.

Spain’s AEMET weather service had forecast torrential downpours of up to 90mm (3.5in) an hour and up to 180mm over 24 hours.

The storm was expected to track across the Mediterranean regions of Valencia, Alicante and Murcia during Thursday and Friday.

One of the first places to be hit was Ontinyent, a town south of Valencia, where the Clariano river flooded the streets on Wednesday night.

Ontinyent’s mayor, Jorge Rodríguez, said the town had endured its heaviest rainfall on record, with more than 400mm by Thursday afternoon.

View of River Clariano overflowing in Ontinyent, Valencia.

He said the town would ask the national government to declare a catastrophe in the area, which would entitle local people to emergency aid and long-term financial help to rebuild.

Muddy water rushed through streets, washing away cars, and almost reached the tops of the front doors of houses along the riverbank. Water also overflowed the Pantano de Almansa dam.

The Clariano rose nine metres (30ft in two hours around the Valencia town of Aielo de Malferit and destroyed a 16th-century bridge, according to the local mayor Juan Rafael Espí.

Train lines and roads were closed, and trees and fences blown over. A mini-tornado was also reported.

Thirteen people were rescued from cars or rooftops in Albacete, south-west of Valencia.

Authorities mobilised Spain’s military emergencies unit, part of the armed forces that provides disaster relief, and people in Murcia were warned not to drive. The Spanish government’s local representative in the region, Francisco Jiménez, advised people to take “maximum precaution.”.

Local schools canceled classes for more than 300,000 students on Thursday and Friday.