Monday, July 15, 2024

In pictures: Madrid shovels a record blizzard | News from Spain

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Armed with pickaxes and shovels, the people of Madrid slowly got rid of Spain’s worst blizzard in decades, which turned roads and sidewalks into ice rinks.

Officials have asked people to stay home if possible after Storm Filomena dumped 20-30 centimeters (seven-eight inches) of snow on the capital between Friday and Saturday.

Emergency services workers and soldiers freed 2,500 drivers trapped in their vehicles by the storm, which killed at least three people.

For lack of salt and snow plows, the authorities only succeeded Monday in clearing the main roads of snow and fallen tree branches.

“The situation is so difficult that we wanted to help,” said Blanca Fernandez, a 39-year-old optician worker, clearing a sidewalk with a borrowed shovel.

Authorities are worried about the prospect of snow turning to ice, with temperatures expected to drop to minus -13 degrees Celsius (9 Fahrenheit) in central Spain on Tuesday.

“We are still facing difficult days, it will not be easy to get back to normal,” Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said at a press conference.

The Madrid region, which has suffered its heaviest snow since 1971, announced that all schools would be closed until January 18.

At Madrid airport, which had been closed for most of the weekend, the first flights resumed Sunday evening after the army cleared the runways.

A total of 116 roads across Spain remained closed and nearly 600 still faced use restrictions due to the storm, according to the Interior Ministry.

Bus services were canceled, but the Madrid metro was running around the clock so essential workers could get to work.


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