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Seven dead in Spain as winter storms lash coast

Photo: AFP


The death toll from a storm that has lashed Spain with strong winds and heavy snow has risen to seven, while four people were missing, officials said.

Gale-force winds and huge waves have smashed into seafront towns, damaging many shops and restaurants, wrecking beach facilities and flooding some streets in the east of the country since Sunday.

The latest victim was a man who fell into the sea in the northeastern port of Palamos, emergency services said late Wednesday.

Police found a body on Wednesday in a flooded area in the eastern region of Valencia where they were looking for a 67-year-old man who went missing in his car, a local police spokesman said.

Two other deaths were recorded in the southern region of Andalusia - among them a 77-year-old farmer killed after a greenhouse collapsed on him in a hailstorm, police said.

Four people were still believed to be missing after Storm Gloria crashed into eastern Spain on Sunday with gusts of over 100 kilometres (60 miles) per hour, massive waves, snow and freezing rain.

National weather agency Aemet said the storm was starting to abate on Wednesday although it kept the northeastern region of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands on alert.

A study published in October by the Mediterranean Experts on Climate and Environmental Change (MedECC), which groups more than 600 scientists, said episodes of heavy rain could increase in the region by 10-20 percent because of climate change.

One of the areas most affected by the storm was the Ebro river delta south of Barcelona where a storm surge swept three kilometres (two miles) inland, according to the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service.

It released satellite images showing how the surface of the region disappeared under water.

Seawater has flooded about 30 square kilometres (12 square miles) of rice-growing areas in the region, according to a local collective.