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In Pictures: Madrid shovels out of record blizzard

In Pictures: Madrid shovels out of record blizzard

Armed with picks and shovels, Madrid residents slowly shovelled out of Spain’s worst blizzard in decades that turned roads and pavements into skating rinks.

Officials asked people to stay at home if possible after Storm Filomena dumped 20-30 centimetres (seven-eight inches) of snow on the capital between Friday and Saturday.

Emergency services workers and soldiers freed 2,500 drivers trapped in their vehicles by the storm, which killed at least three people.

Lacking enough salt and snowploughs, authorities as of Monday only managed to clear main roads of snow and fallen tree branches.

“The situation is so hard that we wanted to help,” said Blanca Fernandez, a 39-year-old optician’s employee, as she cleared a pavement with a borrowed shovel.

Authorities are worried about the prospect of snow turning to ice, with temperatures expected to fall to minus -13 degrees Celsius (9 Fahrenheit) in the centre of Spain on Tuesday.

“We are still facing difficult days, it will not be easy to return to normality,” Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said at a news conference.

The Madrid region, which is dealing with its heaviest snow since 1971, announced all schools would be closed until January 18.

At Madrid airport, which had been closed most of the weekend, the first flights resumed late on Sunday after the army cleared snow from the runways.

A total of 116 roads across Spain remained closed and nearly 600 were still facing restrictions on their use because of the storm, according to the interior ministry.

Bus services were cancelled but the Madrid metro operated around the clock so essential workers could get to their jobs.


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