Published on : Wednesday, January 13, 2021
People in Central Spain are experiencing a deep freeze after the heavy snowstorm over the weekend that led to treacherous conditions. At least seven people have reportedly died due to the extreme weather conditions, two latest victims being homeless in Barcelona. The temperature plunged to -25C (-13F) in Molina de Aragón and Teruel, in mountains east of Madrid and is considered to be Spain’s coldest night in at least 20 years. Officials have already warned the elderly to stay at home.
Deep snow that was left by Storm Filomena has turned to ice, and have also disrupted transport facilities. There has been an extraordinary quantity of snow and ice for Spain, where winters are usually quite mild. Molina de Aragón, where the coldest overnight temperature was recorded, is 197km (122 miles) north-east of Madrid. Besides the two deaths in Barcelona, at least five others are known to have died due to the cold: two in Madrid, two in Málaga and one in Zaragoza.
The overnight temperature in Madrid itself fell to -16C, and on Monday the capital’s hospitals – already under great pressure due to COVID-19 struggled to tend to patients who had slipped on the ice, and reported broken bones. According to medical sources, there was an approximate of 1,200 fracture cases at the beginning of the week in the Madrid region’s hospitals, caused by accidents on the ice with an average of 50 per hour. The flood of emergency calls prompted the Madrid government to appeal to the elderly to stay at home. The charity Save the Children reported that a power cut has left nearly 2,000 vulnerable children and their families without electricity in sub-zero temperatures at La Cañada Real Galiana, in the Madrid region. A power cut also caused the suspension of the Madrid-Barcelona high-speed rail link, but the service resumed later.
Many commuter train services were also disrupted by the extreme weather. Flights were suspended at Madrid-Barajas airport at the weekend, but have gradually resumed, with a big backlog and delays. Local media has reported that nearly 1,300 snow-clearing vehicles operating in affected area and have managed to push snow off 12,100km of roads, to keep them ice-free in 24 hours. Helicopters are monitoring the remote area of the Toledo region, south of Madrid, in order to help people in need. A 64-year-old diabetic man in need of urgent insulin was located by an emergency helicopter in the same area. Similarly in Hervás, western Spain, an emergency call led rescuers to a 39-year-old woman who had slipped on the ice while on a mountain path, with an ankle injury preventing her from walking.