12 Dead After ‘Biblical’ Floods Devastate Spanish Paradise
The floods occurred Tuesday night as river beds burst their banks and devastated the idyllic town of Sant Llorenç, leaving its streets filled with debris, BBC News reported.
The flooding took place after eight inches of rain fell within four hours, causing a usually dry riverbed to fill with water and mud that swept away cars and trees and forced more than 200 to evacuate, The Independent reported.
"It all happened in less than 10 minutes," a survivor told Spanish TV, as The Independent reported. "We had to swim to try to survive."
Social media users referred to the flood as "biblical." Some, like Pedro Caldentey, managed both to escape and record the destruction on social media.
Pedro Caldentey survived the #Majorca floods by scrambling out of his car window as it was caught in the torrent, and climbing onto a nearby roof. From there, he recorded this footage of his car being swept away ... #santllorencpic.twitter.com/HNqsQs1tp3 twitter.com
The dead included six locals, a Dutch woman, a British couple and a German couple. The German couple were the last to be discovered near the hard-hit town of Arta, The Associated Press reported.
One person, a five-year-old boy, is still missing. His mother managed to save her seven-year-old daughter from her car, but she and her son were swept away. Her body was found Wednesday.
Nine hundred police, soldiers and relief workers converged on the area Thursday, working to clear debris and prevent looting, BBC News reported.
One of the volunteers was Mallorcan tennis star Rafael Nadal, whose best friend's cousin was among the dead.
Rafael #Nadal's family tell me that a cousin of Rafa's best friend has died in the #Majorca floods. The tennis star has been helping with the clean up operation + today gathered locals together for a minute silence at his sports academy, next the worst hit area of #Santllorenç.pic.twitter.com/SDSsrnFAyX twitter.com
The Spanish government has initiated the process of declaring the area a "zone of catastrophe," which will allow for funds for relief and recovery work, The Associated Press reported.
"My solidarity and support goes out to the families and friends of victims and all the affected by these tragic floods," Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said before flying to the affected area Wednesday, The Independent reported.
One aid organization blamed the death toll on the fact that the government has allowed building in flood risk areas, making it harder to escape in a disaster, but some survivors said the water came on too quickly for escape routes to have made a difference.A study published in the journal Climate in January found that river flood risk is expected to increase in Western and Central Europe due to climate change, including in the Spanish Mediterranean.