Intense rain and melting snow bring devastating floods to Catalan Pyrenees

More than 400 people evacuated after the River Garona burst its banks

Photo: reuters_live | Video: EL PAÍS - LIVE!

Intense rain and thawing mountain snow brought heavy flooding to the central Pyrenees on Tuesday.

With the situation set to worsen, as forecasters predicted more rain toward the end of the day, hundreds of people had already been evacuated from their homes in the counties of Vall d’Aran, Pallars Sobirà and Alta Ribagorça in the northwest of Lleida province in Catalonia, while many houses were left without gas or electricity.

Over 400 people had to be evacuated in Vielha, Bossòst, Arties and Les after the River Garona burst its banks in several places, while the village of Aidí was cut off from midday onward after the rising Noguera Pallaresa river rendered the only bridge connecting it to the C-13 highway useless. In the small village of Isil the town cemetery was completely destroyed by the waters.

Four highways — the C-147, the C-38, the N-141 and the N-230 — remain closed, which is making the work of firefighters, the Mossos d’Esquadra Catalan police force and Civil Protection personnel more difficult. Catalan regional interior chief Ramon Espadaler said several units from each force, as well as air support, had been sent to the area, but did not give specific numbers.

“If it doesn’t rain any more the situation is controllable,” said Vall d’Aran trustee, Carles Barrera, the highest-ranking political figure in the area. “But if it rains and the level of the Garona rises another 20 centimeters, the effects will be catastrophic, devastating.”

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