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Historic snow storm kills 4 in Madrid

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VIEW FROM THE ROOFTOP of the Circulo de Bellas Artes cultural center during a heavy snowfall in Madrid, Spain, Jan. 9. — REUTERS

MADRID — A storm in Spain killed four people, paralyzed travel and blanketed the capital Madrid in so much snow on Saturday that skiers took to the main Gran Via thoroughfare.

Forecasters warned of more havoc next week after Storm Filomena brought the heaviest snowfall in decades across central Spain.

In the Madrid area, rescuers reached 1,500 people trapped in cars, while on the usually traffic-clogged Gran Via, residents snowboarded and pelted each other with snowballs as well as ski.

“It is astonishing, we have never seen anything like it before,” said Marcos, 30.

One man and a woman in a car drowned after a river burst near Malaga in the south, while two homeless people froze to death in Madrid and Calatayud in the east, officials said.

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“I want to reiterate the government’s call for maximum caution in the face of the evolution of the weather in the next few hours,” tweeted Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

Julian Morcillo, of the State Metereological Agency (AEMET), said temperatures would plunge to minus 10 degrees Celsius (14 Fahrenheit) next week, bringing dangerous ice.

Between 20-30 cm of snow fell in Madrid, making it the heaviest there since 1971, he added.

The capital’s Barajas airport was shut from Friday night, while nationwide, more than 650 roads were blocked.

“No solutions today,” sighed Christopher, a Norwegian national living in Spain, stuck with his car on a road after an aborted attempt to reach a flight for Chile.

“I have been stuck here without water or any other help,” added Patricia Manzanares, in her car on Madrid’s M-40 motorway since 7 p.m. on Friday. — Reuters

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