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Two Britons are among the dead in Mallorcan flash-flood tragedy

A woman clears out mud-caked crockery after the flood.
A woman clears out mud-caked crockery after the flood. / EFE
  • Some 300mm of rainfall in a few hours caused a river to burst its banks, sweeping away cars on the roads and crashing into village streets and homes

Authorities on Mallorca confirmed on Thursday evening that so far the bodies of twelve people who died in the flash flood in the north east of the island on Tuesday evening had been found.

Among the dead were two retired Britons, reportedly from Scotland, who were being driven by a taxi to a hotel when they were caught by the torrent of water that filled roads near the village of Sant Llorenç des Cardassar and the resort of S'Illot. The taxidriver also died.

At the time of press three other people were still missing, although two unidentified bodies believed to be of a missing German couple had been found during the day near to the village of Artà. A five-year-old boy was still missing and much of the search was concentrated out to sea at S'Illot where the river running through the area affected drains into the sea. The normally dry river bed became a torrent on Tuesday night and the missing boy is believed to have been swept some 10 kilometres from Sant Llorenç where his mother died.

Meanwhile residents have been continuing the clean-up of the streets in the villages that were engulfed by water when the river burst its banks during the freak downpour of some 300mm of rain over just a few hours.

Both the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, and leader of the oposition, Pablo Casado, visited the scene on Wednesday and King Felipe and Queen Letizia were expected to visit today, Friday, to offer their condolences and thank rescue workers.

Surprise rainfall

The amount of rain took forecasters by surprise and they described it as localised and impossible to predict. They say the storm was fuelled by warm air off the sea and the proximity of low mountain ranges. In nearby Manacor the rainfall in the same period scarcely reached 23mm.

In Manacor, Rafael Nadal, the tennis player, opened up his training centre facilities for those affected to sleep in and he joined the clear-up operations in Sant Llorenç.

Some of the victims were found dead in their homes, unable to escape the rapidly rising levels of water. "The worst thing was the older people," said one police officer involved in the rescues, "You could see many were trapped but you couldn't do anything."

Some 200 people are estimated to have lost everything. Nearby bridges were destroyed and many roads remained closed on Thursday.