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The blizzard kills 4, stops much of Spain



MADRID (AP) – Sustainable blizzard covers large parts of Spain with 50-year record snow levels, killing at least four people and leaving thousands trapped in cars or at train stations and airports, which have suspended all services while the snow continues to fall. on Saturday.

The bodies of a man and a woman were found by the emergency service of the Andalusian region after their car was washed away by a flooded river near the city of Fuengirola. The interior ministry said a 54-year-old man was also found dead in Madrid under a large pile of snow. A homeless man has died of hypothermia in the northern city of Zaragoza, the local police department said.

More than half of Spain̵

7;s provinces remained alert on Saturday afternoon, five of them at their highest level of storm warning, Philomena. In the capital, authorities activated the red light for the first time since the system was adopted four decades ago, and called on the military to rescue people from vehicles closed to everything from small roads to the city’s main thoroughfares.

More than 50 centimeters of snow fell in the capital. At 7 o’clock on Saturday morning, the national meteorological agency AEMET registered the highest 24-hour snowfall observed since 1971 in Madrid.

Sandra Morena, who was trapped late Friday as she traveled to her night shift as a security guard at a mall, arrived home on foot after an army emergency unit helped her on Saturday morning.

“It usually takes me 15 minutes, but this time it was 12 hours of freezing, no food or water, crying with other people because we didn’t know how to get out,” Morena, 22 said.

“Snow can be very beautiful, but spending the night stuck in a car is not fun because of it,” she added.

AEMET has warned that some regions will receive more than 24 hours of continuous snowfall due to the strange combination of cold air masses stagnant over the Iberian Peninsula and the arrival of the warmer storm Philomena from the south.

The storm is expected to move northeast throughout Saturday, but is expected to be followed by a cold snap, the agency said.

Transport Minister Jose Luis Abalos warned that “the snow will turn to ice and we will enter a situation that may be more dangerous than the one we have at the moment”.

He added that the priority is to help those in need, but also to ensure the supply chain of food and other basic goods.

“The storm exceeded the most pessimistic forecasts we had,” Abalos added.

Carlos Novio, head of the Madrid emergency agency, said more than 1,000 vehicles had been trapped, mostly on the city’s ring road and the main motorway leading from the capital to the south, to the Castilla-La Mancha and Andalusia regions. .

“The situation remains high risk. This is a very complex phenomenon and a critical situation, “Novio said in a statement on social media on Saturday morning.

“We ask everyone who remains trapped to be patient, we will reach you,” he added.

Airport operator AENA said Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas International Airport, the main entrance to and outside the country, will remain closed all day after machines and workers sweeping try to protect the runways from snow.

All trains to and from Madrid, both on-track and long-distance passenger trains, as well as railways between the south and northeast of the country, have been stopped, railway operator Renfe said.

The storm caused severe disruption or closed a total of more than 650 roads by Saturday morning, according to Spanish transit authorities, who urged people to stay indoors and avoid all minor travel.

The winter even stopped the country’s football league, with some of the best teams in La Liga failing to travel for matches. Saturday’s match between Spanish league leader Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao was postponed after the plane carrying Bilbao’s team failed to land in the capital on Friday and had to turn around.

The Castilla-La Mancha and Madrid regions, home to a total of 8.6 million people, have announced that schools will be closed at least on Monday and Tuesday.

Despite numerous branches and even entire trees knocked down by the weight of the snow, the blizzard gave surreal images that entertained many Madrilenos, including several brave skiers and a man on a sled, who can be seen in videos spread on social media.

Lucia Vales, the coach of the Madrid-based ski club, who usually has to travel to distant mountains with her clients, was thrilled to see the white layers of snow literally piling up on her doorstep.

“I never imagined that, it’s a gift,” said the 23-year-old. “But I’ve never taken so many pictures of myself,” she added as she slid past the late 18th-century building that houses the Prado Museum.

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AP writer Joseph Wilson of Barcelona, ​​Spain, contributed to this report.


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