Natural disaster in the east of Mallorca

Saturday, October 13th, 2018

On Tuesday, 9.10.2018, heavy storms and torrential rainfall led to a natural disaster with several deaths in the eastern part of the island, where a torrent overflowing its banks caused severe flooding. The small town of Sant Llorenç in the east of the island, several kilometres from the coast, was particularly hard hit, but flooding and chaotic conditions were also experienced in coastal areas such as the holiday resort of S’Illot.

Heavy storms are not unusual in Mallorca, the extent of this storm with its unprecedented rainfall however, has been described as exceptional and historic by the National Weather Authority.

While the storm, which also caused delays and flight cancellations at Palma airport, was felt in other parts of the island, the disaster zone is limited to a much smaller area in the east of Mallorca.

This part of the island experienced more than 200 litres of precipitation per square metre in just a few hours – about one third of the total average annual precipitation. The rapidly rising flood waters were unexpected; they swept away cars, partially destroyed houses and led to several fatalities, as many people were caught off-guard.

Left behind was a scene of devastation with mud-covered streets and houses as well as mountains of washed-up rubble and cars. Several roads and bridges in the surrounding areas were severely damaged and one bridge near Artà was completely destroyed. As a consequence, traffic to and from the towns of Can Picafort and Alcudia in the north of the island is severely restricted for the time being.

The storm has claimed 13 lives, including three Germans, two Britons and one Dutch national. The immense financial implications of the damage have not yet been fully assessed. The flood victims have been provided with temporary shelter in several hotels and sports centres, one of which being the tennis academy of Mallorcan-born tennis champion Rafael Nadal.

A task force of more than 500 people is carrying out large-scale search- and clean-up operations, amongst those are police and firefighters, military personnel, including soldiers from mainland Spain and, Red Cross personnel.

The disaster resonated across the whole of Spain. Donations of food, money and clothing are flooding in and countless volunteers from non-affected areas have come forward to assist with the clean-up-operations.

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez reacted quickly and was on the scene the day after the events. The Spanish royal couple are also visiting. Felipe VI and Letizia wish to show their solidarity by paying a visit to the town of Sant Llorenç and talking to those affected.

While clean-up operations in the affected areas continue, the rest of Mallorca is back to business as usual.

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