A 20-month-old girl has died in Catalonia after being struck by a large hailstone as fierce storms raged across parts of the north-eastern Spanish region, raining down the largest stones seen in two decades and injuring dozens of people.
The girl, who has not been named, was hit by the hailstone during a storm on Tuesday night in the town of La Bisbal d’Empordà in Girona province. She was taken to a hospital in the provincial capital, but died of her injuries in the early hours of Wednesday.
“We’ve had the awful case of the little girl who was hit by a stone,” the town’s mayor, Carme Vall, told Spain’s national broadcaster, RTVE, on Wednesday morning. “There wasn’t much that could be done for her and she died today. It was a terrible accident.”
The mayor told the Catalan radio station RAC 1 that hardly any rain had fallen, just hailstones that were up to 11cm wide. “The hail fell for only 10 minutes, but it was 10 minutes of terror,” she added.
The Catalan regional president, Pere Aragonès, said his thoughts were with the girl’s family and with all those who had been affected by the storms. He also thanked the regional emergency services for their efforts. “Painfully affected by this tragedy, I want to send my condolences to the family,” Aragonès said in a tweet. “A very big hug. Our full support for the residents of La Bisbal affected by the hailstorm. The government of Catalonia is on your side.”
The Catalan meteorological office, MeteoCat, said that a hailstone with a 10cm diameter had been found in the town where the girl died, making Tuesday’s hailstones the largest in the region since 2002.
Catalonia’s regional firefighting service, the Bombers, said it had received 39 calls from La Bisbal d’Empordà overnight, and two from the nearby town of Forallac. It said the hailstorms had broken roof tiles and brought down some cables.
Residents posted pictures on social media showing the hailstones and the damage they had done to houses, vehicles and outdoor furniture.
On Wednesday morning, MeteoCat predicted lower temperatures and unstable conditions, adding: “Some of the precipitation may fall with great intensity and again be accompanied by hailstorms.”