Worst snowfall in decades wreaks havoc in Spain, 4 dead

Five regions in Spain went into a red alert after a winter storm Filomena caused chaos across the country.

The country’s capital Madrid was particularly affected, prompting the closure of Barajas airport and leaving hundreds of motorists stranded on roads.

A couple died after they were trapped in their car when a river burst its banks near Malaga, southern Spain, while two homeless people froze to death, one in the eastern city of Calatayud and the other in Madrid, authorities said.

Spain’s weather forecasters described the weather emergency as “exceptional and most likely historic.” Filomena has so far caused the heaviest snowfalls in Madrid since 1971.

More expected during the weekend in Madrid and central Spain’s lower plains.

“It’s been a complicated day, but tomorrow is going to be even more difficult,” Madrid Mayor Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida said on Friday, describing the situation in the city as “extremely serious” and urging residents to not to leave their homes.

Madrid’s emergencies agency said they had worked all night on Friday to help trapped motorists, freeing 1,000 vehicles. High-speed rail services to and from Madrid have been suspended.

Nineteen other provinces are also under winter weather warning. A total of 36 of Spain’s 50 provinces will be affected in some way or another by Filomena.

In Toledo, a historic city of 85,000 south of Madrid and capital of the central Castilla La Mancha region, authorities had to seek help from the army to clear roads.

A record temperature of -35.6 degrees Celsius was recorded at Vega de Lourdes in Leon, northern Spain.