Floods claim second victim in northern Spain

The body of a man was pulled from a van trapped in floodwaters in northern Spain on Sunday, the second death linked to heavy rains which have caused rivers to burst their banks.

Floods in northern Spain
Floods in Spain. Photo: QUIQUE GARCIA / AFP

Rescuers located the van in the Bidasoa river in the northern Navarra region on Saturday, a day after the 61-year-old was reported missing after he failed to show up at his job at a factory, a local police spokesman said.

But strong currents and poor visibility prevented them from retrieving his body from the van until Sunday morning, the spokesman added.

A 49-year-old woman died in her car in the Navarra village of Sunbilla on Friday after a landslide that followed two weeks of heavy rains.

READ ALSO – Weather warning: 15 Spanish regions on alert for snowstorms, gales and avalanches

The heavy rains which have hit northern Spain were accompanied by the thawing of snow at higher altitudes, which have caused rivers to rise rapidly, engulfing cars and flooding homes.

During a visit to flooded areas on Sunday, the head of the regional government, Maria Chivite, said Navarra needed to improve its flood readiness.

“Navarra will continue to live with floods and we need to be prepared so that when flooding happens, it has the least impact possible,” she told reporters.

Because a warmer atmosphere holds more water, climate change increases the risk and intensity of flooding from extreme rainfall.

Built-up urban areas with poor drainage infrastructure are especially vulnerable to heavy downpours, scientists say.

Spain’s national weather office is forecasting sunshine and warmer weather for Navarra and the rest of northern Spain for the coming days.

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Storms lash drought-hit Spain

Spain's weather agency issued weather warnings for large parts of the country Tuesday as several days of torrential rains following a prolonged drought caused minor flooding.

Storms lash drought-hit Spain

The heavy rains have mainly affected the southern provinces of Alicante and Almería which have been hit by several thunderstorms since the weekend.

Torrential rains have also lashed Madrid, where several roads were cut on Monday night due to flooding.

Flooding also temporarily interrupted traffic along stretches of three of the Spanish capital’s 12 metro lines, local officials said.

State weather agency AEMET placed most of northern Spain on alert Tuesday due to the risk of thunderstorms, hail and strong winds.

Most of the eastern region of Valencia, which is home to important tourism resorts such as Benidorm, were also on alert, along with parts of central Spain.

Experts said the torrential rains – which tend to trickle off instead of seeping into the ground – were insufficient to end the deficit in Spain’s water reservoirs.

Spain’s reservoirs, which store rainwater for use in drier months, were at just 47.5 percent of their capacity during the final week of May, down slightly from 47.7 percent during the previous week, according to environment ministry figures.

That is well below the ten-year average of around 68 percent.

Spain has registered the driest start to a year since records began, with less than half the average rainfall during the first four months of 2023, according to AEMET.

The government earlier this month approved measures worth more than two billion euros to alleviate the impact of the prolonged drought, especially on the agricultural sector.

READ ALSO: What is Spain’s ‘sea of plastic’ and does it affect UK food shortages?

Spain is the European Union’s biggest producer of fruit and vegetables, and the world’s biggest exporter of olives.