No further information immediately available.
Published Monday, January 8, 2018
Spain has deployed 250 soldiers yesterday to help rescue thousands of people trapped in their vehicles by heavy snow overnight on a highway near Madrid, officials said.
The army's emergency unit UME said it sent two companies of specialist soldiers and 95 vehicles to free over 3,000 vehicles that became stranded on the AP6 highway linking Madrid and the northwestern city of Segovia.
"The vehicles were removed one by one. There were cars with babies inside that did not have water or food," said UME spokesman Aurelio Soto.
About 70 kilometers of the highway in the center of the country were blocked by snow just as families were returning home after the end of the Christmas holidays. Motorists took to social media to complain that they had been trapped on the road since Saturday night without anything to eat and no heating, amid freezing temperatures.
Public Works Minister Inigo de la Serna said the government had opened an inquiry to see if the toll road operator that runs the AP6 highway - Iberpistas, a subsidiary of Spain's Abertis - "had fulfilled all protocols" for a snowstorm. The minister said many other roads were covered by snow but these were closed and cleared without drivers being trapped in their vehicles for so long. He urged people not to use their cars in areas affected by the snow storm "unless it is strictly necessary".
Spain's weather office issued alerts for 37 provinces on Sunday because of the risks posed by the heavy snow, strong winds, and rain.