Floods, heavy rains batter Lisbon, residents urged to stay home

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Heavy rain battered the Portuguese capital on Tuesday, flooding tunnels, sweeping away cars and forcing authorities to suspend bus and tram services and close some main roads.

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The Lisbon mayor’s office put the city on a “red” weather warning at around 6.30 a.m. (0630 GMT) and urged people to stay home and avoid commuting to the capital in the estuary of the Tagus River.

Since midnight, emergency services have reported 275 incidents in Lisbon and the neighboring Setubal district, including flooded streets, tunnels and train stations. Some shops and restaurants were semi-submerged.

Civil Protection Commander Andre Fernandes told a news conference it “would not be easy” to return the situation to normal as the rainfall was likely to intensify.

The mayor’s office said city buses and trams were not operating, the metro was not fully functioning and a number of train stations were inaccessible due to flooding.

Adverse weather conditions also brought Lisbon’s metropolitan area to a standstill last Wednesday, when one person died in a flooded basement.

Heavy rain also hit other parts of the country on Tuesday, with weather agency IPMA declaring a red alert in the central district of Portalegre.

“Today is a day to stay at home, work from home, a little bit like we did during the pandemic,” IPMA chief Miguel Miranda told SIC television. “It’s the only way we can help those working to help us in the streets.”

Lisbon's city hall has been criticized for failing over the years to build infrastructure to prevent flooding. Mayor Carlos Moedas said work to build a 5-km (3-mile) drainage tunnel should start soon.

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