Balearics hit by the eye of the storm.

Near torrential rains and winds of up to 130kmh left a path of destruction across the Balearics yesterday and all ferry sailings were cancelled. Three roads were cut after torrents overflowed their banks and emergency services were working around the clock yesterday to re-open them to traffic. The three roads were the S'Esglaieta to Santa Maria (B road), the link between Consell and Alaro, and the road from Inca to Lluc. The Soller tunnel was also affected after leaks sprang up within the tunnel walls. The municipal police said that a number of accidents, without victims, had taken place as a result of the heavy rains and high winds. According to the fire brigade many of their units were involved in removing debris from the roads, including fallen trees, across the island. As a result of the heavy seas the scheduled sailings to Barcelona, Ibiza and Valencia from Palma were delayed. The Italian cruise liner, Costa Clasica, was stranded in the bay of Palma because the Captain decided that mooring in the port could be too dangerous. An Algerian ferry enroute to Marseille in France was forced to put into Palma to take shelter from the storm. Once again the fishing fleet remained in port and the lack of fresh fish is starting to cause some concern with no landings for three days. The Balearic Port Authority said last night that sailing had started to return to normal. The port of Mahon in Minorca had been closed for five hours yesterday and 272 passengers bound for Barcelona were looked after in the ferry terminal with meals and refreshments provided as they were forced to sit out the storm. The Director of the Met Office said that overnight more than 100 litres of rain per square metre had fallen in Lluc, 77 litres in the Sierra de Alfabia, 20 litres in Palma and 18 litres at Minorca airport. He went on to say that winds of 139 kilometres an hour had swept through the Sierra de Alfabia, 97 kilometres in Valldemossa, 86 kilometres in Pollensa and 84 kilometres an hour at the port of Palma. He said that he expected an improvement in the weather today. However, yesterday organisers of fairs for this weekend said that they are considering postponing the events to be on the safe side as, while nowhere near as severe, the rain is expected to continue over the weekend with temperatures remaining low. The storms which hit the island yesterday had come across from the Canary Islands where they had caused massive destruction and led to the deaths of six people. Many householders across the island were left with the thankless task of mopping up after the rains. The village of Alaro was especially badly hit with many road flooded, one section of a road gave way and a number of landslides were also reported and telecommunications were also disrupted. A number of walls were blown down in Palma. Farmers in the Sa Pobla area said that their crops had taken a severe beating. Farmers have already been forced to delay shipments of potatoes to Britain by a week because of the storm damage. The only bright front yesterday was the reservoirs, which reached historic levels. The city council promised that the heavy rains would mean that there would be no water restrictions this summer. Local hoteliers are not in a happy frame of mind. The poor weather over Easter (even parts of Britain had higher temperatures) coupled with the tourist tax and a slump in holiday sales has meant that they are facing one of their most critical moments for many years.


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