Hundreds of rescue workers searched desperately Thursday for a five-year-old boy and two Germans still missing on Spain’s holiday island of Majorca after flash floods tore through streets and swept away cars, killing 10 people.
A massive clean-up was under way in the mud-covered streets of Sant Llorenc des Cardassar, one of the worst-hit towns, after intense, driving rain on Tuesday afternoon surprised locals who only had a precious few seconds to react before a torrent descended.
Soldiers used shovels to clear the thick mud from the streets of the town, 60 kilometres (40 miles) east of the island’s capital of Palma, while locals tried to recover lost valuables from the wreckage of their homes with the help of volunteers.
Emergency services in the Balearic archipelago tweeted that six men and four women were killed. A British couple and a Dutch woman were among the dead.
Hundreds of rescue workers searched for the five year-old boy and two Germans who were also reported missing on Thursday morning.
“We have broken the affected area in two. We are using search dogs that can detect bodies and drones,” Javier Moreno, a lieutenant colonel with Spain’s military emergency unit UME, told private television Antenna 3.
The child had been in a car in Sant Llorenc with his mother, who was one of those killed, a spokesman for the central government´s representative in the Balearic Islands said. The boy’s sister survived.
Local media reported the mother managed to save her daughter before being swept away.
The missing German pair’s vehicle has been found in good shape with documents inside but it has not been possible to locate them since the floods, the spokesman added.
The elderly British couple were travelling in a taxi which got swept away by flood waters, he said.
They were reportedly on their way to their hotel in the east coast fishing town of Cala Bona after landing at Palma airport.
The taxi driver is among the dead. His body was found a distance away from where the taxi was found with the two Britons inside.
One of the male victims could not yet be identified but is also believed to be a foreigner.
Muddy waters rushed down roads, houses were flooded and vehicles piled up on top of each other after the Mediterranean island was pounded with rain in just a few hours, video footage showed.
Mangled vehicles, wet mattresses, wrecked furniture and trees torn right out from their roots cluttered the streets of Sant Llorenc.
“This is a disaster,” said Antonio Galmes Riera, 55, as he used a big bucket to remove mud from his home with the help of two other men.
A damaged sofa and chair along with a basket of household objects which he will have to throw out sat outside the door of the home.
Marks on the walls show flood waters reached up to a height of at least a metre (three feet).
“I had very valuable stuff here. Look at this clock, it was worth over 2,000 euros,” Riera told AFP as he pointed to an antique wall clock covered in mud.
Nadal chips in
Marina Bisquerra, a local high school student whose home was not affected, used a broom to clear mud from a neighbour’s house.
“There’s a lot to remove, too much. I will help as much as I can,” she said.
Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal, who is from a nearby town, was among the volunteers helping with the cleanup operation.
Pictures and videos posted on Spanish media showed the 32-year-old, wearing boots and white gloves, mopping up the floor of a warehouse on Wednesday.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s government is expected to approve later on Thursday financial help for affected zones.
He visited the disaster zone on Wednesday and described the situation as “absolutely extraordinary”.
Last year, 13.8 million foreign tourists visited the Balearic Islands, according to official statistics. The biggest numbers came from Germany and Britain.
Many more foreigners live in the archipelago.
The regional government of the Balearic Islands declared three days of mourning.