Storm Gloria: Death toll rises to 13 as heavy rain and winds ravage Spain

Kate Ng
A fireman walks on a flooded street in Sarria de Ter on January 23 as storm Gloria batters Spanish eastern coast: AFP via Getty Images

At least 13 people have died as a powerful storm wreaks havoc in parts of Spain, prompting the government to call for an emergency meeting.

Storm Gloria tore through the Balearic Islands, including popular tourist destination Majorca, last weekend before striking Catalonia, Valencia and the southern regions of Murcia and Andalusia.

Catalan authorities confirmed the two latest deaths on Thursday, including a man who was swept out to sea while fishing near Ametlla de Mar and another found dead in his car in Cabaces, where there was flooding.

According to local reports, five people have gone missing since the storm hit the country. Local residents said they had "never seen anything like this" after reflecting on the damage wrought by Storm Gloria.

Spain's prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, told reporters during a visit to worst-affected areas: “I think what’s important right now is that we’re all united, that we work shoulder-to-shoulder and cooperate, as we are doing.”

He added the government will hold an emergency meeting on Friday to address short- and medium-term needs and security.

The storm caused the Ebro River Delta, between Barcelona and Valencia, to swell up to three kilometres inland, flooding an estimated 3,000 hectares of paddy fields in the area, reported local newspaper El Pais.

In the coastal town of Tossa de Mar, thick carpets of sea foam submerged the streets and coated the walls of buildings up to several metres on Wednesday.

The national weather authority said the storm had begun to recede, but more than 100 roads are still shut and tens of thousands of students were told to stay home from school.

Mr Sanchez also added Storm Gloria’s chaos was made worse by climate change.

“Meteorological phenomena we are witnessing aren’t entirely due to climate change, but what is also true is that climate change is accentuating them.

Public administrations have to shift fears and focus our economic resources and public policies … on a new element, and that is climate change,” he said.

Storm Gloria also affected parts of France, including the Pyrenees-Orientales in southern France, and more than 1,500 people were evacuated from their homes due to flooding.

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