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Paralysed by snowstorm, Spain sends out Covid-19 vaccine and food convoys

Paralysed by snowstorm, Spain sends out Covid-19 vaccine and food convoys

On Friday, Madrid experienced its heaviest snowfall since 1971 after what the AEMET weather agency described as "exceptional and most likely historic" conditions caused by Storm Filomena. He added that the priority was to assist those in need but also to ensure the supply chain for food and other basic goods.

Madrid's global airport began gradually resuming operations on Sunday afternoon, having cancelled all flights on Friday.

Hundreds of travellers were trapped at Madrid's Barajas airport while about 100 workers and shoppers spent two nights sleeping at a shopping centre in Majadahonda, a town north of Madrid.

A man and woman who were travelling in a auto drowned after a river burst its banks near the city of Malaga, in southern Spain, and a homeless person froze to death in the eastern city of Calatayud, authorities said. Commuter trains in Madrid and the high-speed railway between Barcelona and Madrid were resuming later Monday.

Spanish officials meanwhile raced to clear the roads of snow before a cold snap transforms them into icy death traps.

The storm also brought heavy rains before moving through eastern Spain into southern France.

Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska warned Sunday that the piles of snow could turn to ice because of the expected low temperatures.

The biggest snowfall since the 1980s in Madrid, according to Mayor Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida, produced some unusual scenes with some residents using skies to mush through the snow-covered streets. With a sharp drop in temperatures on Monday and frost freezing much of the snow, which reached more than 50 centimeters (20 inches) in some urban areas, authorities are calling on people to avoid all but essential trips out of their homes.

"From then, until the end of the week, it's going to be very hard to get about", he told Sexta television.

Athletic Bilbao said its flight to the capital to play at league leader Atletico Madrid had to return to the Bilbao airport following the closure of Madrid's airport.

Some 4x4 vehicle owners offered to transport medical workers, while other volunteers helped to clear hospital entrance ways.

All incoming and outgoing flights were halted at Madrid's global airport, leaving hundreds of passengers at terminals or already inside aircraft waiting for the weather to clear up.

"All of our friends agreed to come this morning just to clear the way from the bus stop to the psychiatry building of the Gregorio Maranon Hospital", said 22-year-old Rocio Sedano.

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