At least five people are dead and twenty more are missing after the torrent in Sant Llorenç burst its banks yesterday. Torrential rain produced some 220 litres per square metre within the space of a few hours. The torrent was unable to cope with the deluge.

The Guardia Civil are referring to a genuine disaster, with people having to be rescued from roofs and trees. One of the people who have died was at his home in the calle Ordines when he was overwhelmed by the rapid floodwater.

The torrent started to overflow around six in the evening. This created chaos, with cars floating and properties inundated with more than a metre of water. The electricity went out and phone connections were cut. The Guardia Civil say that the lack of lighting hampered their search for possible victims.

The five people known to have lost their lives were in Sant Llorenç, Arta and S'Illot. Two tourists travelling in a taxi in S'Illot are among the five. The taxi driver is missing. The former mayor of Arta, Rafel Gili, is another of the dead.

The army's UME emergency unit has been called in to assist with search and rescue. Sant Llorenç was at first light on Wednesday partially cut off, and efforts are being made to clear roads.

The Balearic government met at half eight on Wednesday morning. Government sources say that there was a yellow alert for heavy rain yesterday but that the amount of rainfall had not been forecast.