BBC : Majorca floods: Scenes of hell on an island paradise

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By Gavin Lee BBC Europe reporter, Majorca

  • 12 October 2018

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The people of Sant Llorenç were hit hardest in Majorca, when a torrent engulfed their town on Tuesday

On Charity Street, in the heart of the tourist town, Sant Llorenç, the flood waters have receded. The roads are instead now full of growing piles of broken furniture, street signs and clothing, as hundreds of residents return to their once picture-postcard town to clean and restore their flood-damaged homes.

Survivors told me of their terror as they tried to escape a torrent of flood waters on Tuesday night, clinging to trees and roof-tops to wait for help.

Small towns roads were turned into ravines, as the river burst its banks, sweeping up cars, traffic signs, and anything that stood in its way.

It was here in Sant Llorenç where more than half the 12 victims died, trapped in cars that were soon submerged, or unable to escape from their homes at the lower end of town.

One of the residents, Pedro Sánchez Caldentey, showed me mobile footage he had filmed from a rooftop, as his jeep was engulfed by the water and swept away.

He says he was in there only minutes earlier, that he had climbed out of the window and swum to the roof of a building.

Now, there are 900 soldiers, police and emergency workers in the area, divided into groups, some helping with the clean-up, others trying to prevent the looting that has started.

A third emergency search team are looking for an eight-year-old boy called Artur, whose mother died as their car was caught in the deluge. Her daughter was saved.

Six local residents have now been confirmed dead, and six tourists including a German couple, an elderly Dutch woman, and a British couple in their seventies, Tony and Delia Green.

Image caption Among the victims of the flood were Delia and Tony Green from Moffat in Dumfries and Galloway

A military diving squad who discovered the Greens told us they believed the couple had little hope of survival, after the taxi they were travelling in was swept at speed into a river, and quickly sank.

At the top of the rubble in the central square of Sant Llorenç, there are hundreds of velvet seats, the former interior of the ruined local Cinema Ideal.

Nearby, 19-year-old Aine, covered in mud, is throwing her sister's wardrobe full of damaged clothes out on to the street, and tells me her family are living in the top bedroom, the only habitable room.

Image caption The home of Aine (L) and her family was badly damaged in the flood
Image caption Chairs from the local cinema in Sant Llorenç were stacked on top of each other as the clean-up progressed

For several hours, Majorcan tennis star Rafael Nadal was among the many helping to clear homes.

He lives a short drive away from the disaster area, and at noon on Thursday he gathered dozens of locals at his Sports Academy in nearby Manacor, to pay their respects with a minute's silence.

His uncle and coach, Toni Nadal, told me that Rafael was personally devastated, as Rafa's best friend's cousin was among those who died.

In the aftermath of the disaster, attention is also turning to how this tragedy led to so many people losing their lives.

One aid organisation has accused the local government of turning a blind eye to people illegally building in flood risk areas, making escape routes harder to access.

However, some survivors here said they thought it would have made little difference, that what happened felt "biblical" to them and gave them little time to react.

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