Storm Filomena: Spain sees 'exceptional' snowfall

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Media caption,
Madrid has been hit by heavy snowfall after Storm Filomena

Storm Filomena has blanketed parts of Spain in heavy snow, with half of the country on red alert for more on Saturday.

Road, rail and air travel has been disrupted and interior minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said the country was facing "the most intense storm in the last 50 years".

Madrid, one of the worst affected areas, is set to see up to 20cm (eight inches) of snow in the next 24 hours.

Further south the storm caused rivers to burst their banks.

Four deaths have been reported so far as a result of Filomena. Officials said two people had been found frozen to death - one in the town of Zarzalejo, north-west of Madrid, and the other in the eastern city of Calatayud. Two people travelling in a car were swept away by floods near the southern city of Malaga.

As snow fell on Madrid on Friday evening, a number of vehicles became stranded on a motorway near the capital.

The city's Barajas airport has closed, along with a number of roads, and all trains to and from Madrid have been cancelled.

Image source, Reuters

Firefighters were called in to assist drivers who had become stuck. In some areas the military were called in to help clear roads.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez urged people to stay at home and to follow the instructions of emergency services. King Felipe and Queen Letizia took to Twitter to urge "extreme caution against the risks of accumulation of ice and snow".

Image source, Reuters

The country's AEMET weather agency said the snowfall was "exceptional and most likely historic".

A number of people were seen making the most of the snowy scenery, walking through Madrid's Puerta del Sol square.

Image source, Reuters

Large parks in Madrid have since been closed as a precaution, AFP news agency reports.

Image source, Reuters

One man was pictured skiing along the Gran Via, the capital's famous shopping street.

Image source, EPA

In Cañada Real, the largest shanty town in western Europe, residents were seen creating a bonfire to keep warm.

Image source, Getty Images

The cold weather is set to continue beyond the weekend with temperatures in Madrid predicted to hit -12C on Thursday.

Media caption,
Storm Filomena hits Spain

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