Snow storms that have caused chaos across much of Spain have claimed three lives, the interior minister told journalists Saturday. Forecasters say the fierce weather trend will continue throughout the weekend.
"Even if, despite the extremely difficult weather conditions, the number of incidents is relatively limited, we have three deaths to mourn," Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska told a news conference, without giving further details.
The blizzards have caused widespread chaos in Spain, with the capital's airport closed, hundreds of motorists stranded, and more snow forecast. Five regions remain on red alert.
Storm Filomena blocked roads, particularly in the centre of the country, with the capital Madrid seeing its heaviest snowfalls since 1971.
The AEMET weather agency described the situation as "exceptional and most likely historic".
Another 20 centimetres is forecast to fall Saturday in Madrid and central Spain's lower plains, with up to 50 centimetres at higher altitudes.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted to call on people to stay indoors and follow the instructions of the emergency services.
Chaotic scenes in several Spanish cities
Madrid's emergencies agency said it had worked all night to help trapped motorists, freeing a thousand vehicles. They asked others still stuck to be patient.
The snowfall disrupted traffic on nearly 400 roads, said transport officials and the Renfe rail network said high-speed trains between Madrid and Valencia had been cancelled.
The snow converted Madrid's famous Puerta del Sol into a winter sports venue, as skiers -- and even a man on a sled drawn by five dogs -- took to the normally busy thoroughfare.
In total, 36 of Spain's 50 provinces declared snow alerts.
Apart from Madrid, the regions of Aragon, Valencia, Castilla La Mancha and Catalonia were the worst-hit by the snowstorms.
The historic city of Toledo asked the army for help clearing the streets, as did Albacete in the southeast, public television reported.
Forecasters said the heavy snow would continue until Sunday, before Storm Filomena begins moving northeast,
Madrid football match postponed
Spain's heaviest snowfall in decades has forced Atletico Madrid's game against Athletic Bilbao to be postponed, LaLiga announced.
"With the exceptional situation due to the storm over a large part of the peninsula which has forced the Madrid-Barajas airport to close for the day, and the impossibility of providing a pitch in ideal conditions LaLiga, after discussions with the two clubs, has postponed the game", the federation said.
The fixture was scheduled for 1515 GMT at the Spanish league leaders' Wanda Metropolitano stadium.
A new date for the encounter will be announced in the coming days.
Athletic were unable to land in Madrid because of the extreme weather brought by Storm Filomena on Friday and had to return to Bilbao early in the evening.
Diego Simeone's Atletico lead the table by two points from city rivals Real with two games in hand.