Two deaths have been confirmed in the northern region of Navarra, after heavy rain caused flooding from swollen rivers that burst their banks.
The body of a man was pulled from inside the cab of his van submerged in the Bidasoa river in Navarra on Sunday, after the 61-year-old was reported missing, a police spokesman said.
The man had been reported missing on Friday and his vehicle was spotted the following day, but the fast-flowing river and poor visibility had prevented emergency services from retrieving his body from the van until Sunday, officials said.
A 49-year-old woman died in her car in the Navarra village of Sunbilla on Friday after a landslide that followed two weeks of heavy rains.
The heavy rains which have swamped northern Spain were accompanied by the thawing of snow at higher altitudes, causing rivers to rise rapidly, engulfing cars and flooding homes.
The flooding since Friday’s surge cut numerous roads and flooded streets, notably in the medieval city of Tudela which is located in the Ebro Valley, about 250 km north of Madrid.
The River Ebro’s flow rate doubled from Friday to Sunday and surpassed the rate that in 2015 caused widespread flooding in the region, authorities said.
The head of the Navarra government, María Chivite, called for the region to improve its flood readiness.
‘Navarra will continue to live with floods and we need to be prepared so that when flooding happens, it has the least impact possible,’ she told reporters.
Because a warmer atmosphere holds more water, climate change increases the risk and intensity of flooding from extreme rainfall.
Built-up urban areas with poor drainage infrastructure are especially vulnerable to heavy downpours, scientists say.
Spain’s national weather office forecast sunshine and warmer weather for northern Spain over the coming days.