Four dead, thousands trapped in cars as unusually heavy snow blankets Spain

Associated Press*

Heavy snowfall in central Madrid, Spain. Source: Associated Press

A persistent blizzard blanketed large parts of Spain with an unusual amount of snow today, killing at least four people and leaving thousands trapped in cars or at train stations and airports that suspended all services.

The national weather agency reported that snowfall in Madrid reached a level unseen in half a century. More than 50 centimetres of snow fell in the Spanish capital, according to the weather agency AEMET.

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

More than half of Spain’s provinces remained under severe weather alerts for Storm Filomena today, seven of them at the highest level of warning.

In Madrid, authorities activated a red alert for the first time since the system was adopted four decades ago and called in the military to rescue people from vehicles trapped on everything from small roads to the city’s major thoroughfares.

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