wreckages of cars and debris laying on a flooded street in Sant Llorenc des Cardassar. AFP

A flash flood on the Spanish island of Majorca has killed at least 10 people, including at least three foreigners.

A wave of muddy water engulfed the town of Sant Llorenç des Cardassar, in the east of the island, after heavy rain caused a river to burst its banks.

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Vehicles were swept away as water gushed through narrow streets.

Hundreds of emergency workers and sniffer dogs are involved in the search-and-rescue effort. A five-year-old child is missing.

The dead include six Spanish nationals, a Dutch tourist, a British couple and one unidentified victim.

Worst affected was the town of Sant Llorenç des Cardassar, where cars were swept away.

A woman who had been in her car with her two young children also died. As the waters rose, she managed to get her eight-year-old daughter to safety, but she was unable to save her son aged five, who is still missing.

One survivor told the local Diario de Mallorca website that he had had to climb out of his car window to get to safety. “I swam 500m [1,650 ft] through the torrent until I got to a house,” said Manuel Torrescusa.

Three other victims died in the coastal town of S’illot.

The area was hit with more than 8in (20cm) of rainfall in just a few hours on Tuesday, according to Spanish meteorological agency Aemet.

A senior official from the Sant Llorenç mayor’s office described the situation as a “disaster”. One Aemet official said such intense conditions of torrential and localised rain occurred only every 80 years.

A bridge came down further north on the island in Artà, where an ex-mayor of the town was killed by the flooding.