‘This is the terrifying moment a man almost drowned in the stormy sea at Malta’s Xemxija Bay.
He was pictured clinging to a friend for his life after powerful waves dragged him into the angry sea.
The man, who is lucky to be alive, was one of several dozen people who rushed to Xemxija when hundreds of fish were flung ashore by the huge waves.
Tempted by the prospect of a free meal, some fishermen even waded into sea, ignoring warnings to stay well back from the water.
The fish were sea bream, washed ashore from a nearby fish farm.
Publiée par Liliana Spiteri sur Dimanche 24 février 2019
Bizarre footage shared on social media showed people running to pick them up as the fish flapped around in the middle of the road.
Photographer Rene Rossignaud who uploaded the video on Sunday morning said: ‘One of the fish farms must have broken open and there are hundreds of fish being washed ashore.
‘People are picking them up from the middle of the street. It’s unbelievable!’
This is incredible!!! Hundreds a large fish are being washed ashore with the storm and everyone is stopping to pick up fish !!!
Publiée par Rene Rossignaud sur Dimanche 24 février 2019
Gale force winds of up to 101 km/hr slammed into Malta and Gozo on Sunday, causing widespread chaos and substantial damage – uprooting dozens of trees, demolishing walls and damaging cars, electricity poles, lampposts and bus shelters.
No injuries were reported.
Andrea Muscat from Maltese Islands Weather said: ‘A 101 km/hr wind gust from the Northeast was measured at 4:39am by our weather station in Gharb. It is the highest ever on record in Malta.
‘The wind has started decreasing. The decrease will be very slow but steady. It should become Force 6/7 by late Sunday evening and Force 4/5 by Monday morning.’
The cost of repairing the damage is likely to run into tens of millions of euros.
Cleansing Department director Ray Deguara said the Sliema and St Julian’s promenade was a ‘total disaster’.
He told the Times of Malta: ‘We still have to quantify the damage. The whole operation is going to take days.’
Mr Deguara said the effects of the storm were not limited to the coast.
He told MaltaToday: ‘There’s wreckage all over Malta. There are 50 personnel out there right now to try and clear debris and make roads safe again.
‘The problem isn’t just fallen trees that are blocking the roads. It’s also the trees that have been loosened, the ones about to fall. Those are a serious problem too.’
Some seafront homes near Balluta Bay in St Julian’s and in Vittoriosa were evacuated because of severe flooding.