French storms and floods kill 18, about 10 missing

Flash floods caused by torrential rain killed 18 people and left about 10 missing near France's Mediterranean coast, officials said.

French storms and floods kill 18, about 10 missing

 

Flash floods caused by torrential rain killed 18 people and left about 10 missing near France's Mediterranean coast, officials said on Wednesday, after the worst downpours the region has seen since 1827.

More than 350 mm (14 inches) of rain fell on the Var department in southern France in a few hours on Tuesday.

"Draguignan was the worst-hit town, with hundreds of vehicles swept away and several neighbourhoods under water," the local prefect Hugues Parant said.

More than 1,000 people found refuge in schools and other buildings after their homes were swamped. Helicopters flew over 450 rescue missions and some 100,000 households were without electricity.

Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said about 10 people were still missing and he feared the death toll could rise.

Television pictures showed scores of stranded people packed on the raised terrace of a holiday camp, with surrounding land and low-lying buildings submerged under muddy water.

Locals said people were surprised by the speed at which the waters rose, turning streets into torrents and carrying away cars as if they were toys.

"It was dramatic," said Draguignan mayor Max Piselli. "The town is in a terrible state, with rocks, stones, mud and cars blocking the roads."

The airport in Toulon, closed late on Tuesday because its runways were flooded, reopened on Wednesday morning. Train services along the coast were expected to return to normal on Thursday, railway officials said.

Meteo France, which said the region had not seen floods like this since 1827, warned of more storms on Wednesday night.

In February, a ferocious storm and surging tide killed 53 people in southwestern France.

Reuters

Last Mod: 16 Haziran 2010, 20:37
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