Spain floods: 3 die, 3 missing as record rainfall sweeps through Madrid and Toledo

One of the victims was a young man trapped in a lift that filled up with water

Inti Landauro,Emma Pinedo
Monday 04 September 2023 21:36 BST
A car is stranded after heavy rain in Toledo, Spain
A car is stranded after heavy rain in Toledo, Spain (REUTERS)

At least three people died and three were missing as record rainfall caused heavy flooding in central Spain, shutting roads, subway lines and high-speed train connections, authorities said on Monday.

Helicopters were sent to rescue people who had sought refuge on the roofs of their homes in the Toledo area some 31 miles southwest of Madrid, emergency services said.

The sudden downpour on Sunday and early Monday transformed streets into rivers of mud that swept away cars and rubbish bins in the Madrid, Castile-La Mancha, Catalonia and Valencia regions. Hail also fell in many areas.

Three people died in the countryside around the central city of Toledo, where the weather service AEMET registered record rainfall on Sunday.

Cars in the rain on the M-30 highway in Madrid on Monday (AFP via Getty Images)

One of the victims was a young man who was trapped in a lift that filled up with water, while another was inside a vehicle when it got flooded, police said.

The third person who died was a 50-year-old man who had been reported as missing. His body was found in the afternoon floating in a river near his home in the town of Camarena.

“It just kept raining and we were a little scared, but we were indoors so we were safe,” said Isabella Stewart, a US missionary living in Toledo.

Another Toledo resident, Ruben Gonzalez, said: “I live four blocks away and it was very strong. Everything is flooded. This is crazy.”

In the Madrid region, emergency services tackled almost 1,200 incidents overnight and firefighters and police were searching for one man in the rural area of Aldea del Fresno, the emergency services said.

Rescuers search for a missing man in Aldea del Fresno, Spain on Monday (REUTERS)

The man went missing with his son when their car was dragged into the Alberche River after an avalanche caused by a sudden downpour.

“The minor was rescued after he had climbed up a tree,” the Madrid emergency service said.

Rescuers were also looking for a woman who disappeared under similar circumstances near Toledo and for an 84-year-old man who was dragged away by streams of water and mud in Villamanta, west of Madrid.

Several roads in the Madrid region were closed as half a dozen bridges were torn down by water overflowing the riverbanks.

The defence ministry said it had deployed army engineers to build a Bailey bridge in Aldea del Fresno to connect the banks after the original bridge was swept away.

Several subway lines were closed in central Madrid, though the service was re-established in most of the city during the morning.

Some high-speed connections between Madrid and the southern region of Andalusia had resumed, but trains were operating at lower-than-normal speeds.

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