No power, no water, no hope: inside Europe’s largest shanty town | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED X-Frame-Options: DENY X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN

No power, no water, no hope: inside Europe’s largest shanty town

Despite the daily trials her family has to endure – a pandemic, three months with no electricity and now days without running water since Storm Filomena froze the pipes and left Madrid under a lingering duvet of snow – Sara Benayad has not forgotten the importance of hospitality.

She would welcome the powers-that-be to join her in the novel ritual into which the absence of water has forced her. Every night before bed, Benayad fills saucepans and buckets with snow that must be melted on the gas stove the next morning so there is water for washing and for the dishes.

“I’d really like anyone who’s responsible for this to come and spend the night with us,” she says. “We’d be honoured to have them. They can sleep in my house and suffer and live what we’re living. Maybe then they’d do something.”

Filomena has brought Madrid’s heaviest snows in 50 years, claimed four lives, torn the limbs off tens of thousands of trees and managed the rare feat of leaving the capital in a state of icy, suspended animation.

But no part of Spain has been hit quite as mercilessly as the Cañada Real, the shanty town 12km from the centre of Madrid that is home to Benayad and 8,500 other people, most of them of Moroccan or Roma descent.

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