Low river levels deliver-up religious shrine stolen over 20 years ago

Low river levels in Castelo Branco have delivered up a much-loved shrine, stolen over 20 years ago.

Before the heavens opened up and down the country this weekend – causing all kinds of damage and localised flooding (see below) – GNR ‘mountain rescue teams’ were mobilised over the severely depleted Ponsul river to retrieve the heavy monument, which depicts a blue and white tile with Jesus in the arms of his mother.

The passer-by who first spied the granite shrine in the mud of the riverbed had no idea of its significance. But all it took was the story to appear in local paper Reconquista for villagers of Louriçal do Campo, 50 kms away, to claim ownership – and demand that what they dub ‘alminha’ is returned to its rightful place.

Says tabloid Correio da Manhã, the theft of ‘alminha’ in 1999, led the parish of Louriçal do Campo to commission a replacement. Now, they’re hoping that the original can be restored to add more authenticity to local heritage.

“It should come back”,villager José Martins told the paper. “But this time maybe it should be fixed in place better…”

Saturday downpours create havoc in various parts of country


Worst affected areas were those around Porto and Braga, where flights had to be delayed, cars in underground carparks became submerged and roads flooded.

In Maia, the intense rain and a sheet of water on the A1 motorway is thought to have been behind an accident in which a septuagenarian couple died after their BMW ploughed into the back of a flatbed truck attending a breakdown.

Before the accident, there had been three accidents over a 100-metre stretch of the road.

In the Algarve, flooding issues were also reported in Lagos and Portimão, along with the falling of a number of trees.

Sunday has seen an improvement as streams start filling up and hillsides glisten.

In Lagoa campaigners intent on saving the freshwater lagoon Alagoas Brancas celebrated the fact that that site too is ‘coming back to life’ after so many months without any significant rainfall.
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