By Robert Hetz
MADRID (Reuters) – At least nine people including two Britons were killed as heavy rain and flash floods hit the Spanish island of Mallorca, authorities said on Wednesday.
Torrents of brown water swept cars along narrow streets in the eastern town of Sant Llorenc late on Tuesday. Rivers burst their banks, and swamped homes – forcing some people to take shelter in a sports centre in the nearby town of Manacor.
At least another six people were still missing, El Pais newspaper and other media reported, though emergency services on the island – which is popular with foreign tourists – could not confirm that figure.
Two of the victims were British, a senior official from the San Llorenc mayor’s office, Antonia Bauza, told radio station Cadena Ser.
“It’s been a huge storm. In just two hours, some 180 litres of rain fell and we realised that we could not control the water,” she said. “The situation is a disaster and we’re trying to locate survivors and help people but everything is flooded and people cannot leave their homes.”
Residents swept water and mud out of houses as the floods subsided on Wednesday, leaving roadsides strewn with wrecked vehicles and beaches covered in debris.
Two men were found dead around midday on Wednesday, one in the northeastern town of Arta and another at S’illot further south on the coast. A ninth victim was found around an hour later, emergency services said on Twitter.
The regional government called an emergency meeting, and authorities said rescue workers and military units had been sent to the area to help.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez visited the rescue coordination centre, spoke to emergency workers, and offered condolences for the victims.
“The most important thing right now is to find the missing people and respond to the concerns of their families and to everyone who lives near the affected areas,” he told reporters. “We will be there to support them at this difficult time.”
Lawmakers held a minute’s silence before the weekly prime minister’s question time in parliament on Wednesday morning.
(Additional reporting by Paul Day and Isla Binnie; Editing by Andrew Heavens and David Stamp)