Rescue workers saved thousands of people from rising waters today as record rainfall pounded southeastern Spain, a deluge that authorities said killed at least four people and closed down airports, trains, roads and schools.
The storm that slammed into the Mediterranean coastal regions of Valencia, Murcia and eastern Andalusia yesterday and today left more than 3500 people in need of emergency rescues, Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said.
Some towns and cities reported their heaviest rainfall on record over the past two days, he added.
Authorities asked residents to avoid driving.
In the town of Orihuela, 200 kilometres south of Valencia, the Segura River overflowed its banks.
The weather service for Valencia said 12 centimetres of rain had fallen in just six hours in Orihuela today.
The surging Segura River forced police to close all the bridges crossing it in the city of Murcia.
Brown-coloured water coursed through the city's streets, carrying away parked cars and inundating the bottom floors of houses in many riverside towns.
Grande-Marlaska said acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will visit the devastated area as soon as possible.
The storms in this part of Spain are a yearly metrological phenomenon in the fall, but they have been particularly fierce this year, turning roads into muddy rivers that sweep away everything in their path.