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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 7 March 2021

Hospitals stretched to the limit after Storm Filomena batters Spanish capital

Thousands who slipped on ice need treatment as Madrid emerges from coldest weather since 1945

Sub-zero temperatures and snowstorms in Spain left emergency services already stretched by the pandemic struggling to cope.

Madrid mayor Jose Luis Martínez-Almeida was on Wednesday expected to declare an emergency in the capital, which was badly hit by Storm Filomena.

At least three people are reported to have died in the storm, which brought Spain’s heaviest snowfall in years.

Martínez-Almeida said many citizens had slipped on ice after temperatures plunged to an uncharacteristic minus 10°C, with about 2,000 people treated for fractures.

An average of 50 people an hour were receiving treatment for breaks and other injuries, medical sources said.

Many residents appear to be heeding the stay-at-home warning with shops that remain open reporting few customers.

"Until the ice clears people won't want to go out," Jorge Tato, the owner of a handbag and accessories store said.

City officials are working hard to clear the snow and ice, despite a shortage of snowploughs and salt to treat icy surfaces.

With the main roads cleared, buses are back in circulation with routes serving hospitals the priority, EMT transport service said.

Demetrio, a Ukrainian living in Madrid, said: "You in Madrid are not ready for this. If there is snow, it should be cleaned up the next day."

Madrid has not experienced such temperatures since 1945 and there have only been 15 colder days since 1920, according to Spanish weather agency AEMET.

Elderly people have been told to stay at home and households in two of Madrid’s regions, La Canada and Real Galiana, lost power on Tuesday.

Overnight into Wednesday morning, other parts of the country were gripped by the continuing cold.

A temperature of minus 19.9°C was in Molina de Aragón, Guadalajara, with minus 18°C recorded in Calamocha, Teruel. Also in Teruel, Santa Eulalia del Campo minus 17.8°C, and Bello minus 17.3°C.

Meanwhile in France, about 2,500 drivers were stranded overnight on the A40 motorway at Bellegrade, near the Swiss border, after about 30cm of snow fell.

Published: January 13, 2021 04:03 PM

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