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June 17, 2010 / Dave Gorham

Flash Floods Devastate Parts of Southern France

Heavy rains across southern France on Tuesday triggered flash floods that have killed 20 people and a few people still missing near the Mediterranean coast. Water levels rose quickly as torrential rains hit the area preventing many people from fleeing to higher ground and forcing some to seek shelter on their roofs. Firefighters rushed in to help hundreds of people who were trapped on their rooftops or in vehicles in the Draguignan area, which was the hardest hit. Helicopters were also used to help airlift people to safety. Prisons were also flooded in this same area where water covered the first two floors; 436 inmates had to be taken to other jails.

Flash floods picked cars up and carried them away as if they were toys. Image: AFP

La Nartuby river in Transen Provence, South France. Image: Reuters

Homes were flooded in southern France by the torrential rains. Image: AFP

A popular tourist town, Frejus, was also hit by flash floods and more than 1,500 people had to be taken to safety, many in inflatable boats or by helicopter. The flood waters also trapped a high speed train traveling from Nice to Lille with 300 passagers on board. The SNCF rail authority ended up halting all train services between Toulon and Saint-Raphael until Thursday as almost 2 miles of tracks were under water.

Officials say more than 30 centimeters (12 inches) of rain has fallen since Tuesday, causing water levels to rise to 6.5 feet (2 meters) in the city of Draguignan. Water levels yesterday had dropped slightly in Draguignan but rains were still battering the nearby towns of Roquebrune and Frejus, not far from the Riviera resort of Saint-Tropez. Though the heaviest rain looks to have ended across the region, a few showers can’t be completely ruled out over the next few days across southern France.

One Comment

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  1. VinylculturE / Jun 17 2010 6:56 PM

    madre mia, vaya desastre

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