6 dead, 300 000 ha (741 000 acres) of prime agricultural land destroyed after worst storm in 140 years hit Spain

6 dead, 300 000 ha (741 000 acres) of prime agricultural land destroyed after worst storm in 140 years hit Spain

At least six fatalities have now been confirmed from the harsh weather that has been affecting southeastern Spain since September 11, 2019. Authorities are describing it as the worst storm since 1879 when floodwaters killed over 1 000 in Murcia and Orihuela.

The worst-hit provinces included Valencia, Alicante, Murcia, Albacete, Almeria, and Malaga. 

Ontinyent, Orihuela, and Moixent experienced swelling of rivers leading to raging floods after 250 mm (9.8 inches) of rain fell in 12 hours on top of days of heavy rain. This is 10 times the normal amount for the time of the year.

So far, over 3 500 people have been evacuated, including approximately 2 000 locals from Santomera town in Murcia.

The worst affected was the municipality of Orihuela, Alicante where 75 000 residents remained isolated for three days.

The death toll rose to 6 over the weekend. Two casualties were confirmed in Alicante, while other victims were reported in Caudete in Albacete province, Almeria, and La Jamula in Granada. Most of the deaths were caused by flooded tunnels and roads.

Torrential rains caused not only urban flash floods but also the destruction of at least 300 000 ha (741 316 acres) of prime agricultural land.

The storm also triggered several damaging tornadoes.

Authorities said it's still too early to put a precise figure on the damage.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez assessed the flood-hit places on September 14, while officials have deployed more than 1 100 military personnel to affected communities for assistance.

Valencia region head Ximo Puig has also asked for a Marshall Plan to assist with reconstruction, while Murcia officials are set to declare the area a disaster zone.

The violent weather was reported to be the worst to strike the country since 1871. The slow-moving storm system is known as 'gota fria' or cold drop, which started heading northwest after it weakened on September 15.

Featured image credit: @Cieminfo

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