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Towns in Spain, Portugal engulfed by flooding

Car November 6, 1997
Web posted at: 12:47 p.m. EST (1747 GMT)

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Days of heavy rains triggered flooding in Spain and Portugal Wednesday night and early Thursday, killing about 30 people and causing power outages and destruction.

Rescue teams scoured through hard-hit areas, searching for an unknown number of missing people.

Border towns hardest-hit

By far the hardest-hit areas were along a portion of the Spain-Portugal border defined by the Guadiana River. The river overflowed its banks, collapsing houses in the Portuguese border town of Pomeral.

Train tracks

Ten people were killed in five towns -- none in Pomeral -- in eastern Portugal's Alentejo region. Rescue and medical teams, including soldiers from across Portugal were dispatched by helicopter to the region.

The storm took its heaviest toll before dawn on Thursday, when flash floods raced through the low-lying streets of Spain's western provincial capital of Badajoz.

The floods sent walls of water sweeping through towns and villages, trapping residents in their homes. Eleven people in Badajoz province died.

Spain's western province of Extremadura also suffered a heavy toll, as the raging waters flooded homes and even a communications station there. Rescue workers in dinghies evacuated people from flooded homes in Extremadura, the national news agency EFE said.

A L S O :

Detailed map of Spain and Portugal


Floodwaters rose so high -- up to 10 feet -- in the nearby Spanish town of Valverde de Leganes that two women drowned in a house and one woman drowned in the town square, National Radio reported, citing the Interior Ministry.

Spain authorities forecast flooding

Elsewhere in Spain, the rain and winds of 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph) caused havoc. In the south, near Seville, train cars were swept away by rushing water that flooded train tracks. Trees blown down crushed other vehicles. Many roads were cut off, and dozens of towns lost electrical power or telephone service.

In Madrid, the high winds blew down scaffolding from a city center building, but there were no reported injuries.

At least 50 Spaniards have died from weather-related causes this year.

Authorities have warned Spaniards all week about the danger of the storms, and urged them to avoid driving. Although the storms were expected to become somewhat milder, more rain was forecast Thursday for southern Spain.

Correspondent Al Goodman and Reuters contributed to this report.

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