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Where floods have hit with red warnings in place, weather forecast and latest travel advice

Terrifying footage of flooding caused by torrential rain which has hit different parts of Spain shows water gushing through a metro carriage with people on board while cars were swept away by mud streams and homes were partly under water.

Two people have been killed and three are still missing as torrential rains caused heavy flooding in central Spain on Sunday and early on Monday.

Flood waters enter a metro car after torrential rain hit central Spain, in Madrid, Spain September 4, 2023 in this still image obtained from social media video. Lorena Ontiveros/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
Social media footage shows flood waters entering a metro car after torrential rain hit Madrid (Photo: Lorena Ontiveros/ Reuters)

Where were warnings issued?

Spain’s weather service issued warnings for intense rainstorms in Madrid and surrounding areas on Sunday, with residents in the city being told not to leave their homes as rainfall was set to hit a record-high.

Madrid Mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida called for people to remain off the streets to help emergency crews move with greater speed during what he said was expected to be “an exceptional and truly rare situation in terms of precipitation.”

Mr Almeida said the record for rainfall in Madrid from 1972 of 87 litres per square metre would in all likelihood be broken with a forecast of 120 litres per square metre.

How long are the warnings in place for?

The rainfall, although still heavy in some places, was expected to wane later on Monday.

The National Weather Agency on Monday lowered the alert level to yellow from orange and red on Sunday.

It comes after the southern European country last month endured scorching temperatures during its third heatwave this summer.

What impact has the flooding had?

Helicopters were sent to rescue people who sought refuge on the roofs of their homes in the Toledo area some 50km (31 miles) southwest of Madrid, emergency services said.

The sudden downpour transformed streets into rivers of mud that dragged cars and rubbish bins in Madrid, Castile-La Mancha, Catalonia and Valencia regions. Hail also fell in many areas.

Footage published by Reuters shows cars being swept away and people having to be rescued with an inflatable dinghy after rising water levels had left them trapped.

This photograph taken on September 4, 2023 shows cars stranded on a river bank in the town of Aldea del Fresno, in the Madrid region, as a man was reported missing after his vehicle was swept away by an overflowing river during heavy rains, according to Madrid's emergency services. Affected for months by a historic drought, Spain has been hit by torrential rain that left two people dead and one missing on September 4. This meteorological phenomenon, known as the "Dana" ("isolated high-level depression" in Spanish), began on September 3 afternoon and continued into the night, particularly in Madrid and Castilla-La-Mancha, where torrents of water poured down. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP) (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)
Cars stranded on a river bank in Aldea del Fresno, in the Madrid region (Photo: Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty)

In Alcanar, Tarragona, Juan Carlos Penafiel said he was woken up by the water entering his second-floor apartment.

“We organised amongst ourselves to make ropes with towels and bed sheets and used them to pull two young men who were grabbing on to columns,” Mr Penafiel, who had been visiting the city in Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia, said.

Two people died in the rural area around the central city of Toledo, a police spokesperson said.

“It just kept raining and we were a little scared, but we were indoors so we were safe,” said Isabella Stewart, a US missionary living in Toledo as she was taking a bus.

Another Toledo resident, Ruben Gonzalez, said: “I live four blocks away and it was very strong. Everything is flooded. This is crazy.”

In the Madrid region, emergency services tackled almost 1,200 incidents overnight and firefighters and police were searching for one man in the rural area of Aldea del Fresno, southwest of Madrid, the emergency services said.

Cars are stranded on a flooded road, following heavy rain in Toledo, Spain September 4, 2023. REUTERS/Isabel Infantes
Cars are stranded on a flooded road in Toledo (Photo: Isabel Infantes/Reuters)

The man went missing with his son when their car was dragged into the Alberche River after an avalanche caused by a sudden spate.

“The minor was rescued after he had climbed up a tree,” the Madrid emergency service said.

An 84-year-old man was missing in Villamanta area west of Madrid after he was dragged off by streams of water and mud.

Several roads in the Madrid region were closed as half a dozen bridges were torn down by water overflowing the riverbanks.

Have services resumed?

Several subway lines were closed in central Madrid early on Monday, though the service was reestablished in most of the city during the morning and only a few stations near the River Manzanares were still closed around noon, Metro de Madrid subway operator said in a statement. Some high-speed connections between Madrid and the southern region of Andalusia have resumed, but trains were operating at lower-than-normal speeds.

Additional reporting by agencies

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