A persistent blizzard has blanketed large parts of Spain with 50-year record levels of snow, halting traffic and leaving thousands trapped in cars or train stations and airports.
In Madrid, authorities activated a red alert for the first time since the system was adopted four decades ago and called in the military to rescue people from vehicles trapped on everything from small roads to the city’s main thoroughfares.
Spain’s military was deployed on Saturday to help dozens of drivers stuck on motorways outside Madrid after record snowfall through the night.
The Military Emergencies Unit freed trapped cars, vans and trucks, allowing snowploughs to try to clear the roads.
On Friday, Madrid experienced its heaviest snowfall since 1971 after what the AEMET weather agency described as “exceptional and most likely historic” conditions caused by Storm Filomena.
The bodies of a man and woman were recovered by the Andalusia region emergency service after their car was washed away by a flooded river near the town of Fuengirola.
The interior ministry said a 54-year-old man was also found dead in Madrid under a big pile of snow. A homeless man died of hypothermia in the northern city of Zaragoza, the local police department reported.