MADRID- A huge snowstorm caused at least 1.4 billion euros ($1.70 billion) of damage as it swept through Madrid over the weekend, shutting businesses, damaging buildings and disrupting services, authorities said on Thursday.
Storm Filomena brought the heaviest snowfall in decades across central Spain, wreaking havoc as temperatures hit record lows.
Fallen trees still blocked some roads on Thursday and heaps of rubbish built up alongside snowdrifts, as the Spanish capital tried to get waste-collection services back up and running.
"A catastrophe happened in Madrid, it has severely affected the city's normal functioning and public services, and severely damaged personal property and economic activity," Mayor Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida told reporters.
He urged the central government to declare the area a disaster zone, a classification that would trigger emergency subsidies and other measures.
The storm dumped more than 1.2 million kg of snow on the city, he said. The preliminary cost estimate was based on the hit to economic activity as well as damage to physical infrastructure and property, Martinez-Almeida added.
Five days after the snowfall ended, fresh produce was still in short supply in several supermarkets in the city centre. The price of lemons had soared 39% since last week, agricultural association Asaja said.
Schools are currently scheduled to reopen on Monday across the Madrid region, but the city's deputy mayor, Begona Villacis, said that was now looking increasingly unlikely.
"By Monday it will still be tricky for us to get them there with all the necessary (safety) guarantees that a child needs to go to school," she said at the news conference with the mayor.
($1 = 0.8227 euros)
(Reporting by Inti Landauro, Cristina Sanchez and Belén Carre?o; Writing by Nathan Allen; Editing by Andrew Heavens) ((Nathan.Allen@thomsonreuters.com;))