The snowstorm that hit the Community of Madrid over the weekend trapped 90 people in the Gran Plaza 2 Shopping Centre in Majadahonda with many of them forced to spend Friday night sleeping in stores on cardboard.
Most of those affected were workers at the shopping centre, which has more than 190 stores, but there were also customers who were trapped because of mobility difficulties caused by the accumulation of snow on the roads and transportation problems.
Photographs of employees at the Zara store sleeping on cardboard have been shared on the social network Twitter.
After the controversy the management at Gran Plaza 2 have confirmed that the facilities remained open until 8:00 p.m. on Friday, at which time mobility complications were already obvious in the region.
“Each operator located in our Shopping Centre is free to make their own decision (or abide by the rules of the chains to which they belong) in the face of the exceptional situation experienced due to the snow alert, without and form of penalty”, said a spokesmanforthe centre in a statement.
He said that at no time did management threaten any type of penalty to those stores that closed before 10 pm, the usual closing time.
“There were shops which closed earlier, and others who stayed open as it was very dangerous to return to their homes by car,” he stated.
A total of 90 people, including staff and customers, were trapped in the facilities, some of whom were still there until Sunday.
One of them, Iván Alcalá, who works in a restaurant, explained that many of those affected spent the night sleeping on cardboard.
“At six o’clock on Friday evening we tried to leave, but all the roads in the vicinity were gridlocked because of the amount of snow and there was no longer any way to get through. We all had to go back to the shopping centre,” she said in a statement to RTVE.
A worker at the Zara store, identified as @Sarihta_Madrid, wrote on Twitter about her “adventure” in having to spend the night at the establishment’s facilities.
“After hours locked in the car we decided to return to the centre, although the Civil Guard offered us space in a sports centre. Unfortunately we could not get to the nearest hotel, which Zara offered us. It was an adventure, but we were better in our store than anywhere else!” she explained.
The spokesman for Gran Plaza 2 said that all the people “who have remained have been given water, dinner, breakfast and lunch at all times,” through the various restaurants that remained open.
“The option has also been offered to transfer trapped people to sports centres in Majadahonda, although the authorities recommended staying in our centre for reasons of comfort and safety,” he explained.