Ten people have now been confirmed as having died following the flash flooding in the San Lorenzo area on Tuesday, police confirmed this morning. One person, believed to be a five year old boy, is still missing,
Eight of the dead were in Sant Llorenç village, Son Carrio or S'Illot; two in Arta. Among them were a British couple on holiday. Their taxi was swept away in S'Illot. The British couple were named as Anthony Green and his wife Delia, both in their 70s. They are believed to have died when their taxi was swept away. The cab driver also died. The British couple were travelling to their hotel in Cala Bona. A Dutch senior citizen was another victim. A mother, named as Joanna Planas (pictured), whose seven-year-old daughter had managed to get to safety was one more. She was trapped in their car. Her five-year-old son is still missing. The former mayor of Arta, Rafel Gili, was killed.
Around six o'clock on Tuesday evening, the torrent in Sant Llorenç burst its banks. The torrents, typically dry all summer, are intended to carry rainwater, but the intensity of rainfall was massive. The local authorities and the Aemet agency hadn't seen it coming. There was a yellow alert for heavy rain, but when it came on Tuesday, there was up to 230 litres per square metres over a three to four hour period.
Two torrents meet in Sant Llorenç, one of them originating at a height of some 370 metres. The ferocity and amount of water was overwhelming. It crashed through Sant Llorenç, to Son Carrio and to S'Illot and the sea. Cars were floating, houses were inundated with up to two metres of water. Electricity was cut, phone signals were lost. The emergency effort was hampered by the lack of light. And when dawn came yesterday morning, the devastation became evident. Sludge and mud everywhere. Cars battered. Furniture broken. Residents had already started clearing items from their houses. Sofas, chairs, tables were piled on the filthy streets as the mopping-up operations started.
All available emergency services were diverted to the area, which was wider than had initially been presumed. A zone from Colonia Sant Pere on Alcudia Bay to Manacor was affected. Part of the main road from Colonia to Arta had been washed away. The Guardia Civil, the National Police, the Majorca Fire Brigade, Civil Protection, the army's UME emergency unit were all involved. Over 600 men and women were deployed. Volunteers in the clean-up included Rafael Nadal.
This was the first time that the UME had been called upon since the terrible forest fire in the Andratx area in 2013. The Guardia's dog units were used to search for missing people. The National Police helicopter assisted with the search. It had been due to have been used in Palma yesterday while the latest demolitions at Son Banya were undertaken. The demolitions were postponed.
The authorities went to the scene. Prime Minister Sanchez flew in to Majorca around midday. Accompanied by President Armengol, members of the Balearic government and the president of the Council of Majorca, Miquel Ensenyat, he made clear that the Spanish government will extend all possible assistance. He is proposing that the affected area be declared a disaster zone. The consortium for insurance compensation, a body which is part of the national ministry for economic affairs, will take charge of claims. It acts when there is a natural catastrophe and regular insurance policies don't cover damage.
The Balearic government cabinet had held an emergency meeting at half eight yesterday, at which there was a call for the area to be declared a disaster zone (which should mean rapid financial aid). Three days of mourning were also declared. Other politicians who went to Sant Llorenç yesterday included Pablo Casado, the national leader of the Partido Popular, and Biel Company of the PP in the Balearics. This was a Majorcan disaster but also a national disaster.
Some recriminations inevitably began to fly. Members of the Palma Fire Brigade accused the government of not having called on its assistance. They said that this was like the Andratx fire, when they hadn't been called in. There was seemingly some resentment at the fact that the UME could have been brought over from the mainland, while additional rescue resources in the island were not being utilised.
There was also the inevitable discussion about the climate. The rainfall was something of a freak and not linked to climate change, experts suggested. Storms such as Tuesday's are normal in the Mediterranean; it was just that the rain was so unusually and unexpectedly heavy. Aemet had, after all, only issued a yellow alert. The Balearic minister for public administration, Catalina Cladera, admitted that no one had expected the rain to be as it was.
A further issue was the nature of the torrents. One expert defined the Sant Llorenç torrent as having been designed to be a serial killer. But it was said that no torrent could have withstood that amount of rain. The worst-case scenario of the meeting of the torrents and the intensity of the rain had been played out.
King Felipe led the condolences and the national expressions of grief. He phoned President Armengol to express his solidarity with families and those affected by the floods.
The Congress of Deputies in Madrid held a minute's silence. There were minute's silences at midday in front of the Balearic government's Consolat de Mar headquarters and at town halls across Majorca. At Calvia town hall some one hundred people took part. In Llucmajor a black bow was placed on the front of the town hall building.
Political parties offered their messages. Alberto Jarabo of Podemos referred to the community effort being made to help with accommodation, food and blankets. Biel Company of the Partido Popular spoke of his sadness but also of his hope and confidence in the work of the professionals engaged in the search for those who were missing.
Andreu Alcover of PSOE described events as a tragedy and offered assurances that work will be done to find measures to avoid such a tragedy in the future.
The CCOO union expressed its "deep pain" and stressed that it was at the disposal of local authorities for whatever might be needed. The union held its own minute's silence at midday and sent a message of support to all emergency services and public employees engaged in work in the Sant Llorenç area.
The Bishop of Majorca, Sebastián Taltavull, said that in difficult moments, hope cannot be lost and that consolation will be found, adding the church's help and solidarity.
Real Madrid football club issued its message of support and condolences. This was extended to the families and friends of "the victims of the floods that Majorca is suffering". Real Mallorca sent its message of solidarity, and the first team held a minute's silence before training. Palma Futsal had a special mention for the team's great friend Biel Gili, who is president of the Balearic Athletics Federation. He is the son of Rafel Gili.
Rafa Nadal spoke of "a sad day for Majorca" and expressed his "most sincere condolences" to the families who had suffered bereavements. The Rafa Nadal Centre in Manacor took in some fifty people on Tuesday night.