After record snowfall, Madrid confronts mammoth garbage heaps

·2-min read
Heavy snowfall in Madrid

MADRID (Reuters) - Heaps of plastic rubbish bags were piled up alongside snowdrifts in downtown Madrid on Wednesday after a historic storm paralysed the city's infrastructure, leaving some 9,000 tonnes of uncollected waste lining its streets.

Waste collection, which was suspended last Friday, restarted on Tuesday and had reached 40% capacity by that evening, the city council said in a statement.

But discontent at the council's handling of the storm is rising, especially in the outskirts, according to the FRAVM federation of residents' associations.

"Many of their streets remain blocked, there is no public transport and they (residents) are suffering a lack of supplies," the group tweeted alongside pictures of stranded cars, heaps of trash and an ambulance crew struggling to dig out their vehicle.

Just 15% of roads in the Spanish capital had been cleared of snow and ice by Wednesday afternoon, three days after Storm Filomena crashed through central Spain, bringing record low temperatures and cutting off transport links.

Schools, universities and nurseries will remain closed until at least Monday.

Some cars were circulating slowly on avenues in the centre, but many smaller streets remain blocked by downed trees or treacherous ice patches.

As the cleanup continues, politicians are struggling to count the cost of the damage wrought by the storm.

"Madrid will receive a large bill from Filomena, one that reaches beyond several hundred million euros for sure," Madrid Mayor Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida told COPE radio station, adding that the hospitality sector alone had taken a 70 million euro hit.

After some 150,000 trees were downed by the storm, Almeida said his administration would shortly put out a 15 million euro contract to assess the status of those that remain standing.

(Reporting by Belén Carreño and Emma Pinedo, Writing by Nathan Allen,; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Angus MacSwan)

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