Madrid, Jan 10 (IANS) Three people have lost their lives as a storm named “Filomena” brought chaos to Madrid and vast areas of central Spain with the heaviest snowfall in 50 years, Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska has confirmed.
The Madrid regional government confirmed that one of the victims was a 54-year-old man who apparently died of heart failure after his vehicle became trapped in the snow, reports Xinhua news agency.
Addressing the media here on Saturday, Grande-Marlaska said that around 1,500 people have had to be rescued from trapped vehicles since Friday night and members of the country’s Military Emergency Unit (UME) has been helping with the rescue efforts.
Madrid’s Adolfo Suarez Barajas airport has been shut, the Spanish airports management authority Aena has confirmed, while all local, medium and long distance trains with their origin in Madrid have been cancelled.
The snow has brought chaos to roads, with Madrid’s streets impassable, while ring roads and other major arteries are blocked by snow, with vehicles trapped.
TV footage showed buses trapped after being unable to climb hills and bus services in Madrid have all been cancelled due to the worst snow since 1971.
Madrid and four other regions in central Spain remain on red alert and people advised to stay at home with the snow predicted to continue falling for much of Saturday.
The La Liga football game between Atletico Madrid and Athletic Club Bilbao was postponed after the plane carrying the Athletic Bilbao players was unable to land at Barajas, while schools in Madrid and Castilla-La Mancha will remain closed until at least Tuesday.
Social media has been filled with people enjoying the snow, with images of skiers in the central Gran Via and even a man with a sledge pulled by huskies in one of Madrid’s northern neighbourhoods.