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Spain sends out vaccine, food convoys after snowstorm paralyses roads

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The Spanish government will send convoys carrying the COVID-19 vaccine and food supplies on Sunday to areas cut off by Storm Filomena which brought the heaviest snowfall in decades across central Spain and killed four people.

In the Madrid area, rescuers reached 1,500 people trapped in cars, while police broke up a large snowball fight after authorities appealed for citizens to stay at home for risk of accidents or spreading coronavirus.

Forecasters warned of dangerous conditions in the coming days, with temperatures expected to fall to up to minus 10 Celsius (14 Fahrenheit) next week and the prospect of snow turning to ice and damaged trees falling.

A handout photo made available by the Spanish Armed Forces’ Military Emergency Unit (UME) shows soldiers working at the Isabel Zendal Hospital in Madrid, Spain, 10 January 2021, as they help to clear the snow from its surroundings a day after the city was hit by heavy snowfalls caused by storm Filomena. EPA-EFE/SPANISH MILITARY EMERGENCY UNIT HANDOUT

“Due to the heavy snow in Madrid the airport has suspended operations at least until Sunday evening – if you are flying to or from Madrid, follow @aena or contact your airline,” Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya tweeted.

About 20,000 km of roads across central Spain were affected by the storm and the government would send convoys transporting the vaccine and food supplies to those in need, transport minister Jose Luis Abalos said on Saturday.

A 36-year-old woman gave birth in an ambulance in Madrid on Saturday after health workers were unable to get her to hospital.

A handout photo made available by the Spanish Armed Forces’ Military Emergency Unit (UME) shows soldiers working at the Isabel Zendal Hospital in Madrid, Spain. EPA-EFE/SPANISH MILITARY EMERGENCY UNIT HANDOUT

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.

The State Metereological Agency (Aemet) said up to 20-30 cm (7-8 inches) of snow fell in Madrid on Saturday, the most since 1971.

Main Photo: Soldiers from the Spanish Armed Forces’ Military Emergency Unit (UME) work with snowploughs in Madrid, Spain, 10 January 2021, in the aftermath of Storm Filomena, which brought the heaviest snowfall on Spanish soil in decades. EPA-EFE/Rodrigo Jimenez

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