Three die in Spanish storm, troops deployed to assist motorists stranded by snow

Three die in Spanish storm, troops deployed to assist motorists stranded by snow

MADRID – Three people died in Spain as Storm Filomena caused travel chaos across the country, blanketing Madrid within the heaviest snowfall in decades and troops being mobilised to rescue trapped motorists.
Rescue services reached 1,500 people trapped in cars, while skiers glided down Gran Via, normally one among the busiest streets within the capital. Other Madrid residents used the freak blizzard to snowboard down the road or pelt one another with snowballs.
A man and woman who were traveling during a car drowned after a river burst its banks near Malaga, southern Spain, and a homeless froze to death within the eastern city of Calatayud, authorities said.
Interior minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska urged Spaniards to avoid about essential travel. “We face the foremost intense storm within the last 50 years,” he said.
More than 650 roads were blocked by snow, said Grande-Marlaska, leaving some drivers stuck in their cars from Friday night until Saturday.
Patricia Manzanares, trapped in her car on the M-40 motorway in Madrid since 7 p.m. on Friday, told RTVE television: “I are stuck here without water or the other help”.
Schools and universities were closed until Wednesday, Madrid regional authorities said.
Aena AENA.MC, which controls the country’s airports, said Madrid’s Barajas airport, which was closed on Friday night, would remain shut for the remainder of Saturday. It said a minimum of 50 flights to Madrid, Malaga, Tenerife and Ceuta, a Spanish territory in North Africa , were canceled.
The State Meteorological Agency said it had been the heaviest snowfall in Madrid since 1971, while José Miguel Viñas, a meteorologist from Spanish National Radio, said that between 25 cm and 50 cm (10-20 inches) had fallen within the capital, which he said made it the most important snowfall since 1963.
Atletico Madrid’s game against Athletic Bilbao, scheduled to begin at 1515 GMT on Saturday, was postponed, La Liga said during a statement.
Madrid and 4 other regions were on alert on Saturday as more heavy snowfalls were forecast, consistent with the State Meteorological Agency (Aemet).

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