Two die in Riviera floods, hundreds of homes evacuated
Two people were killed and another was missing on Sunday after flooding and storms hit the Mediterranean coast of south-eastern France, blocking roads, disrupting train services and forcing the authorities to evacuate hundreds of homes.
Emergency workers found the body of a man in Le Muy after a lifeboat capsized. Another body was found in a car in Cabasse.
A firefighter told reporters: “People were trapped in their homes in Le Muy as the water rose and the fire brigade went to rescue them in a boat. Firefighters made three trips to bring them to dry land, but during the final trip a person was lost and the current was so strong that they couldn’t bring him back.”
Hundreds of people forced to leave their homes in Riviera towns including Fréjus and Hyères were sheltered in schools and sports centres over the weekend. More than 1,700 emergency workers were deployed in the Var and Alpes-Maritimes departments, where 5,000 homes were without electricity.
Some flights from Nice airport resumed after being suspended on Saturday as warning sirens sounded and the authorities urged people to stay indoors. Streets remained mostly deserted.
The flooding is believed to be among the worst in the area since 2010, when at least 25 people were killed.
The equivalent of two to three months of rain fell in just 48 hours in Var and the Alpes-Maritimes, the national meteorological service said on Sunday. Some areas reported 300 millimetres of rainfall in two days.
Helicopters were called out to rescue hundreds of people trapped by the floodwaters. Many villages remained cut off throughout the weekend.
A 39-year-old woman was seriously injured after being swept away by a wave, firefighters said.
A 78-year-old man was hospitalised with hypothermia after being trapped by a tree trunk brought down by a landslide caused by the deluge.
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Nearly 100 roads were closed amid fears of further landslides in the hills north of the Riviera coast.
Jean-Luc Videlaine, the Prefect of Var, said the floods had peaked. “The flooding is starting to go down but the situation is still far from returning to normal and rivers are still swollen and overflowing,” he said on Sunday.
Christophe Castaner, the interior minister, visited the area on Sunday, and promised victims that the government would assist them.
Across the border in Italy, Genoa and other parts of the north-western Liguria region were also lashed by storms and heavy rain. A landslide trapped hundreds of people and rivers burst their banks.