SANT LLORENC DES CARDASSAR, Spain: At least 10 people died, including two Britons, and a boy remained missing on Wednesday (Oct 10) after flash floods hit the Spanish holiday island of Majorca, tearing through village streets and sweeping away cars.
Muddy waters rushed down roads, houses were flooded and vehicles piled up on top of each other after the Mediterranean island was pounded with rain in just a few hours, video footage showed.
Pedro Sanchez, who had been filming a swollen river with his mobile phone, said he escaped through the window of his car and swam to safety after the waters rose two metres in 30 seconds, engulfing his vehicle.
"I took refuge on the roof of a neighbour's house where I stayed for awhile," he told AFP, adding that he watched as his car was swept away by the current.
Another witness told a local newspaper he had to swim out of his car through a window to safety at a house some 500 metres away.
"I hardly had any clothes on me as they all got caught on a metal fence when I was swimming," Manuel Torrescusa told the Diario de Mallorca.
Emergency services in the Balearic archipelago tweeted that the death toll had risen to 10 and a little boy remained missing.
A British couple and a Dutch woman were among the dead, it added.
One of the male victims could not yet be identified but is also believed to be a foreigner.
"We are supporting the family of two British people following their deaths in Spain, and will do all we can to assist them at this deeply difficult time," Britain's Foreign Office said in a statement.
Emergency services sent out tweets in Spanish, Catalan, English and German in an indication of the prevalence of tourists and foreign residents on the island.
Last year, 13.8 million foreign tourists visited the Balearic Islands, according to official statistics. The biggest numbers came from Germany and Britain.
Many more foreigners live in the archipelago.
TENNIS ACE NADAL HELPS OUT
Spain's meteorological office warned that rainfall and storms were set to get worse in the archipelago "in the coming hours."
In Majorca, the worst affected area lay 60 kilometres east of the capital Palma de Majorca.
Piles of rubbish and wrecked furniture cluttered the streets in Sant Llorenc des Cardassar, one of the worst-hit villages, while locals with the aid of volunteers used mops to clean up the water flooding their homes.
Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal, who is from the affected area in Majorca, was among the volunteers helping with the cleanup operation.
A video posted on the website of La Vanguardia newspaper showed him mopping up the floor of a warehouse.
He helped out for "several hours", said Sanchez, who is from Sant Llorenc.
Earlier on Wednesday, Nadal said on Instagram he was offering to open up his sports centre and tennis academy to people made homeless by the floods.
"Our most sincere condolences to the loved ones of the victims of the serious floods in San Llorenc," he wrote.
THREE DAYS OF MOURNING
Local television showed footage of beach umbrellas floating in the sea near S'Illot, one of the affected coastal villages.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez visited the disaster zone and described the situation as "absolutely extraordinary".
He promised financial help for affected zones.
Many people spent the night in sports centres.
Spanish lawmakers observed a minute of silence in parliament in memory of the victims. The regional government of the Balearic Islands declared three days of mourning.