4 Dead, 2 Airports Closed as Torrential Rains Hit Southern Spain

By The Associated Press

Four people have been killed in two days of torrential rains in southeastern Spain, where emergency services have rescued people stuck in flooded tunnels and an airport, local train networks and dozens of roads were closed on Friday, Sept. 13.

Heavy rainfall in the regions of Valencia and Murcia swept away cars and debris and forced the evacuation of over a thousand people, including from flooded highways.

Almeria and Murcia’s airport were closed, Spanish airport operator Aena said, and tourists were also left stranded in Alicante airport.

“We’ve been in the queue here four or five hours, it’s very difficult to get to the toilet, impossible to get anything to eat,” Haydn Harding, a 78-year old diabetic tourist from Northern Ireland, said at Alicante’s airport.

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Stranded passengers sleep on the floor of the arrivals hall at Alicante airport, Spain on Sept. 13, 2019. (Sergio Perez/Reuters)

The town hall of the city of Almeria, on the Mediterranean coast, said a person was trapped in a car when it drove into a flooded tunnel on Friday morning. Spanish state broadcaster TVE reported that police were able to rescue two other people traveling in the car.

On Thursday, emergency services found a 51-year-old woman and her 61-year-old brother dead inside an overturned car that had been washed away by the rising water.

Some municipalities have reported the heaviest rainfall on record.

In the town of Orihuela, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Valencia, the river Segura overflowed its banks at some points. The weather service for Valencia said that 12 centimeters (4.7 inches) of rain fell in six hours in Orihuela on Friday morning.

“The storms have picked up and we are still in a very difficult situation due to the overflowing of the river,” Valencia’s regional president Ximo Puig told TVE. “This will have important economic consequences, but right now the important thing is the wellbeing of our people.”

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Rescue workers on a boat rescue a person who was stranded inside a flooded tunnel after heavy floods in Pilar de la Horadada, Spain on Sept. 13, 2019. (Sergio Perez/Reuters)
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People look at the overflowing Segura river as torrential rains hit Orihuela, near Murcia, Spain on Sept. 13, 2019. (Jon Nazca/Reuters)

Mud-colored water rushed through streets, carrying away parked cars and inundating the bottom floors of houses in many towns.

RTV showed images of rescuers in a small rubber boat being towed upstream by a jet ski into a flooded tunnel where reportedly people were trapped on top of their cars.

The Spanish weather service AEMET maintained its alert for the region, saying it is “at extreme risk” from torrential downpours.

Emergency services for the region of Murcia, which is south of Valencia, said that they have rescued 144 people from cars and flooded homes. At least one person had to be rescued by a police helicopter from the roof of a building surrounded by water.

The Spanish government representative for the region of Murcia said that army units rescued 60 people from a campsite that had been cut off by the floods.

Trains are currently unavailable and several roads are closed. Authorities canceled school classes and asked residents to avoid driving.

“Nobody should leave their homes. Use your common sense,” said Fernando López Miras, the regional president for Murcia.

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A partially submerged vehicle is pictured near a flooded tunnel after heavy floods in San Pedro del Pinatar, Spain on Sept. 13, 2019. (Sergio Perez/Reuters)
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Rescue workers on a boat rescue a person stranded inside a flooded tunnel after heavy floods in San Pedro del Pinatar, Spain on Sept. 13, 2019. (Sergio Perez/Reuters)

By Jon Nazca and Marco Trujillo

Reuters contributed to this report.