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British couple among those killed after flash floods hit Majorca

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British couple are killed when their taxi is swept away and fellow Britons are missing after Majorca flash floods caused by torrential rain claim at least nine lives

  • Nine people are dead and at least six missing after seven inches of rain fell in two hours in Majorca overnight
  • British couple died in Sant LLorenc des Cardassar when their taxi was swept away by floodwaters around 8pm
  • More Britons are among the missing along with couple's taxi driver as officials warn death toll could rise to 14
  • Locals described having to swim for their lives and clamber on to their rooftops to escape the wall of water

By Gerard Couzens In Spain For Mailonline and Chris Pleasance for MailOnline

Published: 02:37 EDT, 10 October 2018 | Updated: 08:22 EDT, 10 October 2018

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A British couple are among at least nine people killed after floods struck the Spanish island of Majorca overnight.

The pair were found dead inside a taxi that had been driving through the town of Sant LLorenc des Cardassar around 8pm Tuesday when a nearby river burst its banks and swept the vehicle away.

More Britons are also believed to be among at least six people - including the couple's taxi driver - who are still missing, as authorities warn the death toll could rise to 14. 

Locals told how they had to swim for their lives after a wall of water smashed into their homes overnight, while others watched helplessly as cars with people still inside were washed away. 

Meanwhile Spanish forecasters warned the emergency is far from over as they raised the threat level for Majorca's east, where Sant Llorenc is located, to red - with 11 inches of rain forecast in the next 12 hours.

Nine people are dead and another six missing after more than seven inches of rain fell in two hours on the eastern side of Majorca, sparking flash flooding in the towns of Sant Llorenc des Cardassar (pictured) and Arta
Nine people are dead and another six missing after more than seven inches of rain fell in two hours on the eastern side of Majorca, sparking flash flooding in the towns of Sant Llorenc des Cardassar (pictured) and Arta

Nine people are dead and another six missing after more than seven inches of rain fell in two hours on the eastern side of Majorca, sparking flash flooding in the towns of Sant Llorenc des Cardassar (pictured) and Arta

A British couple have been confirmed among the dead after a taxi they were taking through Sant Llorenc was swept away around 8pm when a nearby river burst its banks
A British couple have been confirmed among the dead after a taxi they were taking through Sant Llorenc was swept away around 8pm when a nearby river burst its banks

A British couple have been confirmed among the dead after a taxi they were taking through Sant Llorenc was swept away around 8pm when a nearby river burst its banks

 Dozens of cars were caught up in floods as streets turned to rivers before being dumped in piles when the water subsided
 Dozens of cars were caught up in floods as streets turned to rivers before being dumped in piles when the water subsided

 Dozens of cars were caught up in floods as streets turned to rivers before being dumped in piles when the water subsided

Authorities have warned that the death toll could rise to 14 as they search through vehicles that were swept away during the flooding, with sniffer dogs being brought in
Authorities have warned that the death toll could rise to 14 as they search through vehicles that were swept away during the flooding, with sniffer dogs being brought in

Authorities have warned that the death toll could rise to 14 as they search through vehicles that were swept away during the flooding, with sniffer dogs being brought in

The flood is the worst to hit the island of Majorca since 1990 and the worst to affect Sant Llorenc since 1989
The flood is the worst to hit the island of Majorca since 1990 and the worst to affect Sant Llorenc since 1989

The flood is the worst to hit the island of Majorca since 1990 and the worst to affect Sant Llorenc since 1989

The couple were riding in a taxi through the town around 8pm when a nearby river, which is usually dry, burst its banks and the vehicle was swept away
The couple were riding in a taxi through the town around 8pm when a nearby river, which is usually dry, burst its banks and the vehicle was swept away

The couple were riding in a taxi through the town around 8pm when a nearby river, which is usually dry, burst its banks and the vehicle was swept away

The pair are among nine people to have been confirmed dead in the flooding, while at least six still missing
The pair are among nine people to have been confirmed dead in the flooding, while at least six still missing

The pair are among nine people to have been confirmed dead in the flooding, while at least six still missing

More than seven inches of rain fell in a two-hour span on eastern Majorca last night, turning streets into rivers
More than seven inches of rain fell in a two-hour span on eastern Majorca last night, turning streets into rivers

More than seven inches of rain fell in a two-hour span on eastern Majorca last night, turning streets into rivers

Two Britons were killed overnight in the Spanish town of Sant LLorenc des Cardassar, on Majorca, when torrential rain caused flash flooding (pictured)
Two Britons were killed overnight in the Spanish town of Sant LLorenc des Cardassar, on Majorca, when torrential rain caused flash flooding (pictured)

Two Britons were killed overnight in the Spanish town of Sant LLorenc des Cardassar, on Majorca, when torrential rain caused flash flooding (pictured)

One survivor said: 'We were at home when the river burst its banks and began to take the cars away. The water was coming through the windows and the doors.'

Another said: 'The water reached about 13 foot at one point and was piling cars up on top of each other.

'I had to swim to survive. I have seen cars go past me with people inside.' 

Majorca's extreme autumn weather 

Autumnal weather in Majorca, particularly in October, can be severe, with everything from flash flooding, to extreme hail storms, to tornadoes. 

From September through to December, Majorca is subject to heavy rainfall that can lead to flash flooding. This is at its worst in October, which is the peak thunderstorm month.

Torrential rain over the mountains can result in flash flooding along the coastline three to four hours later.  

Source: Holiday-Weather.com 

Local Manuel Torrescusa, told the Diario de Mallorca how he swam through his car window to safety. He said: 'I swam 500 metres (1,650 feet) through the torrent until I got to a house.

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

Rosario Sanchez, the mayor of Sant Llorenç, confirmed that three men and two women were among the dead.

Among them was Rafel Gili, 71, former mayor of the town of Arta which is close to Sant Llorenc where vehicles were reportedly swept into the sea on Tuesday night.

Another elderly man with mobility issues died after getting trapped in the basement of his home, while an elderly woman also died after getting trapped in her home, authorities said. A sixth victim was found in the town of s'Illot.

The ninth victim is thought to be a van driver called Biel Mesquida Salas who was last seen driving a van in an area near the town of Sant Llorenc des Cardassar called Son Vives.

His family had used social media to appeal for information on his whereabouts.

Dozens of soldiers and more than 100 emergency workers have been sent to Majorca to deal with the aftermath, as sniffer dogs search vehicles for the missing
Dozens of soldiers and more than 100 emergency workers have been sent to Majorca to deal with the aftermath, as sniffer dogs search vehicles for the missing

Dozens of soldiers and more than 100 emergency workers have been sent to Majorca to deal with the aftermath, as sniffer dogs search vehicles for the missing

Debris littered the streets of Sant Llorenc and Arta after the torrential storm, which took place around 7pm yesterday
Debris littered the streets of Sant Llorenc and Arta after the torrential storm, which took place around 7pm yesterday

Debris littered the streets of Sant Llorenc and Arta after the torrential storm, which took place around 7pm yesterday

Cars swept along in the flood were left scattered amid mud, wood and other debris along the streets of Sant Llorenc
Cars swept along in the flood were left scattered amid mud, wood and other debris along the streets of Sant Llorenc

Cars swept along in the flood were left scattered amid mud, wood and other debris along the streets of Sant Llorenc

Residents emerge to inspect the damage as forecasters are predicting more rain and high winds for the Mediterranean this week with the possibility of further storms
Residents emerge to inspect the damage as forecasters are predicting more rain and high winds for the Mediterranean this week with the possibility of further storms

Residents emerge to inspect the damage as forecasters are predicting more rain and high winds for the Mediterranean this week with the possibility of further storms

Cars sit among flattened trees after being swept aside by floodwaters in Majorca overnight on Tuesday
Cars sit among flattened trees after being swept aside by floodwaters in Majorca overnight on Tuesday

Cars sit among flattened trees after being swept aside by floodwaters in Majorca overnight on Tuesday

Tons of mud were swept through the streets during the torrential storm while others described being able to smell raw sewage washed up from the drains
Tons of mud were swept through the streets during the torrential storm while others described being able to smell raw sewage washed up from the drains

Tons of mud were swept through the streets during the torrential storm while others described being able to smell raw sewage washed up from the drains

Residents remove mud from their home in the village of Sant Llorenc after the worst flooding for 29 years hit the town
Residents remove mud from their home in the village of Sant Llorenc after the worst flooding for 29 years hit the town

Residents remove mud from their home in the village of Sant Llorenc after the worst flooding for 29 years hit the town

Francina Armengol, President of the Balearic Islands which includes Majorca, confirmed Wednesday that her government would declare three days of mourning and will be pressing Madrid to declare the affected area as an official disaster zone. 

The storm is the worst to hit Majorca since 1990, and the worst to hit Sant Lllorenc since 1989, according to local station IB3. 

Grahame Madge, spokesman for the Met Office, said the Mediterranean is being affected by a 'very strong' weather system centered over southern France and northern Spain which is drawing in hot, moist air.

'Those are the two key ingredients for very strong rain storms,' he told Mail Online. 

'Heavy rain and thunderstorms will continue to affect the region this week before the system tracks east and into northern Italy by Friday.

'Some places could see high winds, heavy rain, lightning and hail.' 

Spain's meteorological office said the neighbouring islands of Ibiza and Formentera were now on high alert.  

The taxi driver is understood to have been working for a cab firm called Radio Taxi Cala Millor, which confirmed that the driver is still missing.

A spokesman for the emergency services said: 'The British victims were travelling in a taxi that was swept away by flash floods. Their bodies were found inside the vehicle.'

She could not say what their ages were or where they were travelling to or from.

She added: 'This information forms part of an ongoing investigation. Our work now is focussed on searching for those people who remain missing.' 

Roads collapsed, power lines were toppled and emergency service numbers failed overnight as the rain hammered down
Roads collapsed, power lines were toppled and emergency service numbers failed overnight as the rain hammered down

Roads collapsed, power lines were toppled and emergency service numbers failed overnight as the rain hammered down

At least two elderly people died after getting trapped in their homes as dozens of properties were inundated with water

Residents help in the cleaing up work in a street in the village of Sant Llorenc following the torrential rains overnight
Residents help in the cleaing up work in a street in the village of Sant Llorenc following the torrential rains overnight

Residents help in the cleaing up work in a street in the village of Sant Llorenc following the torrential rains overnight

Emergency teams gather at the main road of Sant Llorenc, where Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is expected today
Emergency teams gather at the main road of Sant Llorenc, where Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is expected today

Emergency teams gather at the main road of Sant Llorenc, where Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is expected today

A tractor and truck with a hydraulic arm attached help to move vehicles swept up in floodwaters on Majorca overnight
A tractor and truck with a hydraulic arm attached help to move vehicles swept up in floodwaters on Majorca overnight

A tractor and truck with a hydraulic arm attached help to move vehicles swept up in floodwaters on Majorca overnight

Mud and debris covers the ground outside an apartment block along with sun loungers carried along by floodwaters
Mud and debris covers the ground outside an apartment block along with sun loungers carried along by floodwaters

Mud and debris covers the ground outside an apartment block along with sun loungers carried along by floodwaters

Locals in Sant LLorenc sought refuge on their roofs as a torrent of water invaded the ground floor of their homes, sweeping cars out to sea.

The first two victims were aged 71 and 83. One was trapped by a torrent of water that flooded the basement of his home and another was found by a road linking the town of Arta to the coastal resort of Canyamel.

An emergency services coordinator tweeted just after midnight: 'It has been confirmed that a third person has died' before adding around 6am: 'Rescuer teams have informed us of a fourth fatality in the floods on the east of Majorca.

'She's a woman who was trapped in her home in Sant Llorenc.'

Local authorities confirmed at breakfast-time on Wednesday that another person had died, although no more details were immediately released.

The number of people missing in the floods was up to 15 at one point overnight, although local authorities later clarified that it was down to five.

Rosario Sanchez Grau, central government representative for the Balearic Islands, said: 'These are difficult moments. My condolences and solidarity for all those affected, especially the families and friends of those who have died.'

Seven inches of rain fell in a two hour span on Majorca overnight, with the town of Sant Llorenc des Cardassar at the centre of the storm

Local officials said they were completely unprepared for the downpour, saying that a huge amount of rain fell in a very short space of time
Local officials said they were completely unprepared for the downpour, saying that a huge amount of rain fell in a very short space of time

Local officials said they were completely unprepared for the downpour, saying that a huge amount of rain fell in a very short space of time

Six people have been confirmed dead and six more are missing after torrential rains turned roads into rivers and swept cars away around Sant LLorenc des Cardassar
Six people have been confirmed dead and six more are missing after torrential rains turned roads into rivers and swept cars away around Sant LLorenc des Cardassar

Six people have been confirmed dead and six more are missing after torrential rains turned roads into rivers and swept cars away around Sant LLorenc des Cardassar

Majorca residents were forced to seek refuge on their rooftops as the rain flooded basements and ground floor apartments, while dragging cars away
Majorca residents were forced to seek refuge on their rooftops as the rain flooded basements and ground floor apartments, while dragging cars away

Majorca residents were forced to seek refuge on their rooftops as the rain flooded basements and ground floor apartments, while dragging cars away

A car rests across a highway crash barrier after being swept up in floodwaters on Majorca
A car rests across a highway crash barrier after being swept up in floodwaters on Majorca

A car rests across a highway crash barrier after being swept up in floodwaters on Majorca

Around 100 people from Sant Llorenc were forced to spend the night in a sports centre in the nearby town of Manacor after their homes flooded
Around 100 people from Sant Llorenc were forced to spend the night in a sports centre in the nearby town of Manacor after their homes flooded

Around 100 people from Sant Llorenc were forced to spend the night in a sports centre in the nearby town of Manacor after their homes flooded

Authorities said Sant Llorenc was still cut off from the rest of the island on Wednesday and accessible only by foot
Authorities said Sant Llorenc was still cut off from the rest of the island on Wednesday and accessible only by foot

Authorities said Sant Llorenc was still cut off from the rest of the island on Wednesday and accessible only by foot

Heavy rain also brought chaos to other parts of Spain including Barcelona, where parts of the tube service were temporarily suspended
Heavy rain also brought chaos to other parts of Spain including Barcelona, where parts of the tube service were temporarily suspended

Heavy rain also brought chaos to other parts of Spain including Barcelona, where parts of the tube service were temporarily suspended

Catalina Cladera, in charge of public administration for the regional government, described the situation as 'dantesque' and added: 'We weren't expecting it.

'The alert went from yellow to orange in a very short space of time. A massive amount of rain has fallen in very little time.'

The Spanish military is sending more than a hundred emergency workers with sniffer dogs to help with the rescue effort, the BBC reports.

Three helicopters and a military Hercules plane are also being sent from the mainland Spanish city of Valencia. 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is also traveling to the disaster zone and is expected to arrive around 1pm.  

Sanchez tweeted his 'solidarity and support for the relatives and friends of the victims, and for all those affected by this tragic flooding.'

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

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

Around 100 people have spent the night at a council-run sports centre in the city of Manacor near Sant Llorenc.

Locals said the town remained virtually cut-off Wednesday morning and could only be reached by foot. Schools in the areas suspended classes because of power cuts.

Heavy rain also brought chaos to other parts of Spain including Barcelona, where parts of the tube service were temporarily suspended, and Costa del Sol holiday resorts.

The Costa del Sol remained on red alert Wednesday following overnight storms and torrential rain in resorts like Marbella, which came after a day of heavy downpours.

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