A large area of southeastern Spain was battered on Thursday by what was forecast to be its heaviest rainfall in more than a century, with the storms wreaking widespread destruction and killing at least two people.
The regional emergency service said a 51-year-old woman and her 61-year-old brother were found dead inside an overturned car that floodwaters washed away in Caudete, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of Valencia.
The Valencia fire department tweeted that emergency crews also pulled three people from a river.
Four police were injured in that rescue operation.
The Spanish weather service AEMET classified the region as being “at extreme risk” as it forecast torrential downpours of up to 90 millimetres (three and a half inches) an hour and up to 180 millimetres (seven inches) over 24 hours.
One of the first places to be hit was Ontinyent, south of Valencia, where the River Clariano flooded the streets late on Wednesday.
Almost 300 millimetres (nearly 12 inches) fell in 24 hours, which the mayor said was the heaviest recorded there since 1917.
The River Clariano rose nine metres (about 30 feet) in two hours around the Valencia town of Aielo de Malferit and tore apart a 16th-century bridge there, local officials said.
Closed roads and train lines disrupted travel.
Trucks, trees and fences blew down, and a mini-tornado was also reported.
In Albacete, southwest of Valencia, 13 people were rescued from cars or from the roofs of buildings, emergency services told Europa Press.
None was hurt.
In Murcia, authorities warned people not to go out in their cars.
The local Spanish government representative there advised people to take “maximum precaution”, adding that Thursday was “a good day to stay at home”.
Local schools canceled classes Thursday and Friday for more than 300,000 students, according to Europa Press.