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Snow keeps schools closed in icy central Spain

The Madrid region was among the worst hit areas with levels of snowfall not seen since 1971 - GABRIEL BOUYS / ©AFP
The Madrid region was among the worst hit areas with levels of snowfall not seen since 1971 - GABRIEL BOUYS / ©AFP

(AFP)

Schools, courts and museums were closed throughout central Spain on Monday two days after the region was hit with a massive snowstorm. 

Officials have asked people to stay at home if possible after Storm Filomena brought the heaviest snowfall in the region for 50 years, killing three people. 

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Emergency services and army snowploughs worked round the clock on Friday and Saturday to free some 2,500 drivers trapped in their vehicles. 

The army also had to clear the snow from Madrid airport, with some flights resuming on Sunday.

However, by Monday morning in Madrid, only main roads had been cleared of snow, with most pavements, smaller roads and residential areas still covered.

Residents heeded the government’s call to stay at home, with the capital’s streets all but deserted.

Throughout the weekend, people had been responding to calls to help clear vital paths in their neighbourhoods to allow access to hospitals.

“All of our friends agreed to come this morning just to clear the way from the bus stop to the psychiatry building of the Gregorio Maranon Hospital,” said 22-year-old Rocio Sedano.

“We want people to be able to walk safely.”

The Madrid region, among the worst hit areas with levels of snowfall not seen since 1971, announced all educational and cultural institutions would be closed on Monday and Tuesday. 

Courts would remain closed until Wednesday, officials said. 

The government has insisted the travel chaos will not affect the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, with 350,000 doses due to be doled out nationwide on Monday.

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