.
.
.
.

Madrid delays reopening of schools after historic snowfall

Published: Updated:

Madrid’s regional government on Friday postponed the opening of schools until January 20 because many roads remained blocked a week after Spain’s worst snowstorm in decades.

The region’s 2,557 schools had been set to reopen on Monday but access to over half of them, or 57.6 percent, remains difficult because of the snow and ice, the regional government said in a statement.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Clean-up crews will “continue working intensely over the following days” to ensure school can open as planned, it added.

Storm Filomena dumped 50 centimeters of snow on Madrid between last Friday and Saturday, leaving the city and large swathes of the country impassable.

The storm had been blamed for five deaths. It was followed by several days of plunging temperatures, which hardened mounds of snow and slush.

While main arteries have been cleared, hundreds of side streets remained caked in snow and ice which has disrupted post-delivery and rubbish collection, with huge piles of refuse piled up around overflowing bins across Madrid.

About a third of all streets, or 30.3 percent of all streets have been cleared, according to Madrid city hall which estimates the storm caused at least 1.4 billion euros ($1.7 billion) in damage.

Madrid mayor Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida said the storm dumped more than 1.2 million kilos of snow on the city, enough to form a line of trucks stretching from Madrid to Brussels.

He has called on the central government to declare the area a disaster zone, a move that would trigger emergency aid and other measures.

But the central government wants to wait for a final evaluation of the damage before it decides whether to declare Madrid a disaster area, Transport Minister Jose Luis Abalos told reporters.

Meanwhile, Madrid three main art museums -- the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofia, the home of Picasso’s masterpiece “Guernica” -- all announced that they would reopen on Monday for the first time since the storm hit.

Read more:

Watch: Chaos on the roads as Spain sees heaviest snowfall in decades

Three dead in Spanish snowstorms: Interior ministry

Three killed in avalanche at Russian arctic ski resort