MADRID: At least nine people died, including two British nationals, and six others were missing Wednesday in devastating flash floods on the Spanish holiday island of Majorca, authorities said.
Footage broadcast on Spanish television showed cars being swept away by raging, muddy waters, houses flooded and vehicles piled one on top of the other after the Mediterranean island was pounded with heavy rain in just a few hours.
One witness told a local newspaper he had to swim out of his car through a window to safety.
“I swam 500 metres (1,650 feet) through the torrent until I got to a house,” Manuel Torrescusa told the Diario de Mallorca.
“I hardly had any clothes on me as they all got caught on a metal fence when I was swimming.”
A spokesman for the Spanish central government’s office in the Balearic Islands told AFP nine people had died while six others had been formally identified as missing.
He warned there could be more people missing.
Antonia Bauza, deputy mayor of Sant Llorenc des Cardassar, told Spanish radio that two British nationals were among the dead.
She added there were also Britons among the missing.
Neither the emergency services, police nor the British foreign office were able to confirm this when contacted by AFP.
“The priority is to identify survivors and rescue people stuck at home,” Bauza said.
“We have lots of vacation homes.”
Emergency services in the archipelago updated information regularly on Twitter, sending out tweets in Spanish, Catalan, English and German in an indication of the prevalence of tourists and foreign residents on the island.
– Ibiza, Formentera on alert –
Spain’s meteorological office said the neighbouring islands of Ibiza and Formentera were now on high alert as the rain and storms moved there.
In Majorca, the worst affected area lay 60 kilometres (37 miles) east of the capital Palma de Majorca.
Javier Martinez, another witness, told the Diario de Mallorca he had to leave his flooded home.
“I don’t have anything with me, just the pyjama,” he was quoted as saying.
“My house filled up completely and when it (the water level) dropped we left and went through the mud that the flood left.”
Rescue workers searched overnight for missing people.
Around 100 extra emergency workers were dispatched from the Spanish mainland, along with two helicopters, eight vehicles and search dogs, the country’s emergency military unit said.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted his “solidarity and support for the relatives and friends of the victims, and for all those affected by this tragic flooding.”
He was due to fly to the disaster zone later Wednesday.
Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal, who is from the affected area in Majorca, said on Instagram he was offering to open up his sports centre and tennis academy to people displaced by the floods.
“Our most sincere condolences to the loved ones of the victims of the serious floods in San Llorenc,” he wrote.
Many locals hit by the flooding spent the night in sports centres.
Maria Magdalena Ferrer, spokeswoman for the Manacor Hospital in the affected area, told AFP people “who were in the hospital yesterday and weren’t able to go home” stayed the night.
She added five people had been admitted with injuries, none of them serious.—AFP