Spanish toddler dies after being hit by giant hailstone

A person holding a hailstone during a hailstorm in Girona, Spain, on Aug 30, 2022. The girl was killed when a hailstone hit her on the head. PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID (REUTERS, AFP) - A 20-month-old girl died after being struck on the head during a violent hailstorm that caused havoc in Catalonia, north-eastern Spain, authorities said on Wednesday (Aug 31).

Fist-sized hailstones up to 10cm in diameter rained down on Tuesday on an area around the village of La Bisbal d'Emporda. They caused injuries - mostly broken bones and bruising - to around 50 other people, broadcaster TV3 said.

The hailstone "fell on the toddler's head" and "she did not survive", Ms Carme Vall, a city councillor in the Catalan town of La Bisbal de l'Emporda, told radio RAC1.

"The hail only fell for 10 minutes, but it was 10 minutes of terror... Only hailstones were falling, hardly any rain," she said, adding that the hailstones that had fallen in the area were up to 11cm wide.

"People started screaming and hiding", said musician Sicus Carbonell, who filmed the storm's destructive aftermath in Castell d'Emporda, a nearby hotel where his band was playing a canvas-covered terrace when everyone was forced to run for cover.

"There was chaos, with little boys and girls running around alone, some parents were able to grab their children," he told Reuters.

"There was a little girl of around three or four who was not sheltering under the parasol. I ran out and grabbed her... Then a hailstone broke though the fabric... and I told my group that either we get into the restaurant or one of those tennis balls would land on us and we wouldn't make it."

The toddler who was struck in the head in La Bisbal d'Emporda girl died at Girona's Josep Trueta Hospital, authorities there said.

The hailstones were the biggest recorded in two decades in Catalonia, according to meteorological agency Meteocat. Parts of the region remained on storm alert on Wednesday.

Images broadcast on Spanish television showed several cars with shattered windshields or dents in their roofs from the hailstones.

The stained glass windows of the town's church were also shattered by the impact of the hailstones, photos released by the town hall showed.

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