At least 12 people have died and a child remains missing after torrential rains ravaged Sant Llorenç and other small towns on the Spanish island of Mallorca.
Two more bodies were recovered on Thursday in Artá. Rescue services said they might be a German couple who had gone missing. A five-year-old child is still unaccounted for.
Two British citizens are also among the dead, authorities have reported. Over 200 residents have been evacuated from their homes.
Meteorologists said that over 230 millimeters of rain fell in the area in just two hours, and described the likelihood of such an event as “one in a thousand years.”
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez visited the area on Wednesday and said that the government “will use all its resources” to help residents recover from the flash flooding that engulfed their homes. The Friday Cabinet meeting will declare the area a disaster zone and release emergency funds.
The head of the Balearic Islands, Francina Armengol, said that the regional government has created a special group that will visit affected areas “one home at a time” to assess people’s needs.
And tennis player Rafa Nadal, who is from the nearby town of Manacor, has offered his sports center there “to all affected people who need a place to stay.”
Sant Llorenç des Cardassar was the worst hit, with four fatalities reported there. Three more people died in S’Illot and one more in Artà, according to the emergency services.
“Today our hearts are in Sant Llorenç des Cardassar with the victims of the floods and our support and energy with all those who, from the start, have been working hard to lessen its effects.”
The heavy rainfall flooded the Ses Planes brook, which is typically dry, sending water gushing through the historical center, dragging cars, flooding houses and leaving hundreds of residents trapped in their homes. Many waited to be rescued on balconies and the rooftops of their houses.
“Cars were pushed into the crash barriers after the torrential rain in Manacor and Sant Llorenç in Mallorca.”
According to the Civil Guard, the British couple killed in the flooding were traveling in a taxi when the water engulfed their vehicle. Dozens more drivers were trapped on roads, while the heavy rainfall took down telephone and power lines, further complicating the rescue effort.
Many residents remain in shock. “We were inside the car next to our house and we were dragged away by the water and the current,” Pedro Femenías, a resident of Sant Llorenç des Cardassar, told EL PAÍS. When he returned to his home, the rooms were completely flooded, tree trunks covered the floor and items of furniture were piled up on top of each other.
“We have no other choice but to try to clean everything up,” said his wife. No one was inside the house and the family said they were grateful no one was hurt, although two of their vehicles were lost to the current.
Resident Tomás Martínez said his ground-floor apartment was also ruined by the flood: “The storm destroyed walls, dragged down trees, it’s a disaster.”
“Avoid unnecessary travel to the area of Sant Llorenç,” reads this message from the emergency services.
“There’s no way of predicting something like this,” he added. “In the 1980s there was a flood but it wasn’t that serious. Now there are houses that will have to be pulled down completely, people who were saved because someone was able to get them out. It’s very painful that people have died.”
One resident told EL PAÍS how he was able to save his family in time. “I was working in Manacor and my brother, who is in a wheelchair, called to say that water was coming in and that he was with my 93-year-old mother. It took me over an hour to get there but we are fine, thank God.”
Balearics premier Francina Armengol has decreed three days of mourning: “These are moments of immense pain and we need to support the families. Our infinite gratitude goes to the people who are participating in the rescue effort.”
English version by Melissa Kitson.
“Following very closely the terrible news from Sant Llorenç (Mallorca). My solidarity and support to the families of the victims and to everyone affected by these tragic floods,” reads this tweet from Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.