A 49-year-old woman died this Friday in the town of Sunbilla (northern Navarra, 665 inhabitants), after being buried under a mountain of earth that has been dislodged by a slope. The incident occurred this afternoon after a strong landslide occurred next to a tunnel on the N-121-A road (Pamplona-Behobia). The intense rains in recent days, which have hit this area in a special way, and Navarra and the Basque Country in general, have caused a slope to detach, which has fallen on a wooden shed attached to the Galtzaga farmhouse, in one of the Navarrese populations that are being severely affected by the storm.
The Navarre Provincial Police have been informed of the events at 11:56 in the morning and have immediately mobilized a patrol from the neighboring town of Elizondo. A vehicle was parked inside the shed, which has been crushed by the fallen earth. Police officers and firefighters have found the woman’s lifeless body at the scene. The investigation is now trying to clarify if this person has been surprised by the detachment inside the car or if he was trapped when he tried to remove it from the porch. The property affected by the landslide is located far from the town of Sunbilla, in a rural and isolated area, close to the Bidasoa River, although at a higher level than its channel, which at that time carried a large flow of water due to the intense rains and the thaw of the last hours.
In addition, the relatives of a 61-year-old neighbor of the Navarrese municipality of Elizondo denounced his disappearance on Friday night after he failed to get to work. It is expected that this Saturday a search device will be launched in the area, one of the most affected on this day by floods and heavy rainfall.
Since early in the morning, the flow of the Arga river, the largest in the Pamplona region, has exceeded 592 cubic meters per second and has reached a level of 4.75 meters, which is expected to continue rising. The City Council of the Navarran capital has activated alert level 1 of the flood plan and has confirmed that it is the highest flow recorded in this course in the last two decades. Already at dawn, the Consistory has begun to notify the neighborhood to remove their vehicles from the parking lots closest to the course of the river. In neighborhoods like La Rochapea, the flooding of the river has come to flood the streets of the interior.
The rains that hit the Basque Country and Navarra in recent days are causing numerous incidents, mainly due to the overflowing of rivers and landslides that are affecting several towns and roads, especially the secondary network. The situation of the Mendaro hospital (Gipuzkoa) is of particular concern to the emergency services, since both the center and the town were isolated by road due to the flooding of the Deba, although access was already possible this Friday afternoon, still with difficulties, and the road between Mendaro and Deba has been cut off.
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In Gipuzkoa, the most critical moment occurred during the early hours of this Friday, due to the overflow of the Oria, Urumea and the aforementioned Deba rivers at some points. The Basque Department of Security has therefore recommended that you do not go to the local health center, even if you have an appointment. Part of the staff has been able to access the hospital, so that assistance is guaranteed for about 90 patients who are currently admitted to the center, the Basque Government has assured in an informative note.
June Ibáñez, a neighbor of Mendaro and a worker at the Galle-tiak establishment, speaks of the overflowing of the river as an old problem. “We have been raining for 20 days. We have had the river problem for many years. Until now, it had overflowed, but not to these extremes. Fortunately, we have not regretted personal injuries, but we are talking about small children and elderly people who cannot leave the house and who are without electricity, ”he says by phone. “It is clearly avoidable for a long time and solutions must be put in place,” he adds.
The Basque Government has established a contingency plan to guarantee the operation of the Mendaro Hospital to respond to the needs of patients who need to access the center if the situation worsens and they are left incommunicado again, the autonomous Executive has reported, which has reinforced health personnel in both emergencies and operating rooms.
On Thursday at noon, phase 2 of the Special Emergency Plan for Flood Risk was activated. The main diseases during that day were concentrated in Álava and Bizkaia. The Zadorra river overflowed near Vitoria after opening the floodgates of the Ulibarri-Ganboa reservoir to disembark. The other river that also exceeded its channel at various points was the Cadagua, especially in Güeñes and Sodupe. During the night, the situation has worsened in Gipuzkoa, especially in areas of Deba and Bidasoa. The floods, they point out from the Eretza de Sodupe school, have particularly affected the lower part of the town and the markets and garages in the area. “One of the buses that make the route has had to change the route and that has meant that the students and teachers have been able to arrive, but later,” they explain by phone from the school. From the Jauja restaurant in the municipality of Güeñes they emphasize that the rain has accompanied them for many days. “It has been all very often, in just two weeks. We lived something similar a few years ago, but this in the end, is like everything: if you act from the beginning and clean the rivers, it could have been avoided anyway ”.
The landslides produced during the early morning are affecting the BI-6333 in Mallabia (Alto de Trabakua). The N-634 has also been completely cut off at the height of Eibar, Elgoibar, Deba and Mendaro. There have been cuts on the AP-68 in Orozko, towards Vitoria, so traffic is diverted along a regional road. There is also no passage on the highway between Eibar and Elgoibar, and it is circulated by means of a by-pass in this section. It is still possible to circulate although with precautions due to possible landslides or rafts of water on the road on the A-8 in Ortuella (Bizkaia). The French border with Irun is cut by floods on the roads of the Gallic country.
In Navarra, the Arga, Ega, Larraun, Ezkurra, Urederra and Baztán rivers have reached the flood alert level in recent hours and incidents are occurring in various areas with flooded streets and garages and blocked roads. The municipal police and firefighters of Navarra have carried out around twenty rescues in different parts of the community due to the floods throughout the morning. As reported through their Twitter account, they have rescued a mother and her two children in a house in San Jorge, several pedestrians who have been trapped in shops, two people in an elevator and two others with reduced mobility in the square. Sancho Abarca. Traffic is also being affected on various roads, including the A-1 Autovía del Norte, which is diverting traffic towards Pamplona at kilometer 395, along the Olazagutia branch. In addition, traffic to trucks and articulated vehicles at the height of Alsasua is cut off. There are 15 secondary roads cut by snow, mainly in Navarra and the province of Huesca.
The Vice-Lehendakari and Security Councilor, Josu Erkoreka, has canceled an institutional trip to Pamplona and had planned to travel to the Traffic Management and Emergency Coordination Center of Txurdinaga (Bilbao) where he will preside over the crisis table of the Special Plan for Flood Risk .
The forecasts of the Basque meteorology agency, Euskalmet, indicate a slight improvement in the weather in the next few hours. Although it will continue to rain – in the Basque Country the rain has not stopped during the last three weeks – the storm will diminish in the next few hours and the situation of the rivers is expected to normalize throughout this Friday.
In the north of the province of Burgos, it is especially accused of thawing, caused by the rise in temperature. In the Merindades there are flooded areas. In Miranda de Ebro, the rise of the river has caused some streets to be flooded and access has been limited, reports Juan Navarro. The Ebro Hydrographic Confederation estimates that the Ebro river flood will reach Mendavia in the early morning and early hours of the morning and that it will do so in the Castejón and Tudela area on Saturday afternoon, after the floods that have been registered in the northern part of Navarra and in the Pamplona region.
The State Meteorological Agency (AEMET) has warned of a strong risk of avalanches (the fourth of five levels) in Picos de Europa until Sunday and of notable risk (third of the five levels) in Alto Campo (Cantabria), so The 112 Emergency Service of the Government of Cantabria recommends extreme caution.
With information from Mikel Ormazabal.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.