Britons among nine dead in Majorca flash floods

MADRID — At least nine people died, including two British nationals, and six others were missing on Wednesday in devastating flash floods on the Spanish holiday island of Majorca, authorities said.

Footage broadcast on Spanish television showed cars being swept away by raging, muddy waters, houses flooded and vehicles piled on top of each other after the Mediterranean island was pounded with heavy rain in just a few hours.

One witness told a local newspaper he had to swim out of his car through a window to safety.

“I swam 500 meters (1,650 feet) through the torrent until I got to a house,” Manuel Torrescusa told the Diario de Mallorca.

“I hardly had any clothes on me as they all got caught on a metal fence when I was swimming.”

A spokesman for the Spanish central government’s office in the Balearic Islands said nine people had died while six others had been formally identified as missing.

He warned there could be more people missing.

Antonia Bauza, deputy mayor of Sant Llorenc des Cardassar, told Spanish radio that two British nationals were among the dead.

She said there were also Britons among the missing.

Neither the emergency services, police nor the British foreign office were able to confirm this when contacted by AFP.

“We have lots of vacation homes,” Bauza said.

Emergency services in the archipelago updated information regularly on Twitter, sending out tweets in Spanish, Catalan, English and German in an indication of the prevalence of tourists and foreign residents on the island.

Spain’s meteorological office said the neighboring islands of Ibiza and Formentera were now on high alert as the rain and storms moved there.

In Majorca, the worst affected area lay 60 km east of the capital Palma de Majorca.

Javier Martinez told the Diario de Mallorca he had to leave his flooded home.

“I don’t have anything with me, just the pyjama,” he was quoted as saying.

“My house filled up completely and when it (the water level) dropped we left and went through the mud that the flood left.”

Local television showed footage of beach umbrellas floating in the sea near S’Illot, one of the affected coastal villages, one man looking at the water with his binoculars to spot any missing people.

Around 400 emergency workers were working to search for people and help those affected, the regional government said.

Helicopters and search dogs were also dispatched to the scene, the country’s emergency military unit added.

“What is most urgent right now is to find missing people and address the concerns of their relatives and all neighbors,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said during a visit to the disaster zone.

Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal, who is from the affected area in Majorca, said on Instagram he was offering to open up his sports center and tennis academy to people made homeless by the floods.

“Our most sincere condolences to the loved ones of the victims of the serious floods in San Llorenc,” he wrote.

Many locals hit by the flooding spent the night in sports centers.

Maria Magdalena Ferrer, spokeswoman for the Manacor Hospital in the affected area, said that people “who were in the hospital yesterday and weren’t able to go home” stayed the night. — AFP