By ARITZ PARRA
MADRID (AP) — Torrential rainstorms that caused flash flooding of water and mud on the Spanish island of Mallorca killed at least nine people, authorities said on Wednesday.
A spokeswoman with the regional emergency service said two British nationals and a Dutch woman were among the victims, but she couldn’t confirm whether six more people were still missing at midday as local media reported.
The Britons and two local residents died in the town of Sant Llorenc des Cardassar, the town’s deputy mayor, Antonia Bauza, told Cadena SER radio.
Sant Llorenc, which is about 60 kilometers (40 miles) east of Mallorca’s capital, Palma, is where a dry creek overflowed amid heavy downpours, creating a strong current of water and mud that buried cars and tore trees along the way, according to witness accounts.
The Balearic Islands’ emergency services spokeswoman, who wasn’t authorized to be named in media reports, told The Associated Press that the body of a Dutch woman was recovered from the garage of a house in Arta, another nearby town.
Other victims were found in Arta and the coastal town of S’illot, where the overflowed creek reaches the sea.
Public broadcaster TVE showed footage of flooded streets and overturned cars along the guardrails of a major road.
“It all happened in less than 10 minutes,” an unidentified witness with wet clothes and a blanket over his shoulders told TVE. “We had to swim to try to survive.”
Authorities said 80 soldiers and seven vehicles from the military’s emergency unit had joined Wednesday more than 100 rescuers who had been working in the area overnight.
At least three towns closed schools and hundreds of people were sheltered in sport facilities and a local horse racing track, authorities said. The flooding also affected phone communications, destroyed two bridges and forced the closure of 11 roads.
Some parts of the island received up to 23 centimeters (nine inches) of rainfall in around four hours on Tuesday evening, national weather authorities reported.
The weather agency, AEMET, said more heavy rainfall is expected Wednesday in eastern and southern parts of the Iberian peninsula.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called news of the flooding “devastating ” on Twitter: “My solidarity and support goes out to the families and friends of victims and all the affected by these tragic floods.”
Sanchez will be flying to the area later Wednesday, his office said.