Hundreds Evacuated as French Villages Hit by Flooding

Roquebillière, France, Oct 5 (AFP/APP): Rescue workers evacuated hundreds of people Monday from villages hammered by flash flooding in southeast France over the weekend, with the death toll expected to rise as searches continue for survivors.

Two people died after storms dumped huge amounts of rain that turned streams into churning torrents that swept away cars, houses and bridges in the French Alps north of Nice. The authorities said eight people had disappeared, in some cases after witnesses reported seeing them carried away by the floodwaters, while 13 others have not been heard from since Friday.

Italian authorities also said two people died, including a volunteer firefighter on a rescue operation Saturday. Meteorologist Luca Mercalli told the Fatto Quotidiano daily Monday that in Limone Piemonte and the Roya Valley “some 600 millimetres of rain fell in fewer than 24 hours. Half the annual average rainfall in just one day.”

“I’ve lost everything. My house, 25 metres long (80 feet), was engulfed by the Vesubie river”, said Alain Brucy, 63, as trucks carrying water, baby food, toilet paper and other essentials arrived in Roquebilliere, a French village near the Italian border.

“The priority is to evacuate those who want to leave this war zone they’ve been living in for the past two days”, the government’s top regional official, Bernard Gonzalez, told AFP, saying some areas looked as if they had been “bombarded.” Around 400 people have been evacuated by helicopter so far, he said. Gonzalez also said four bodies found on a beach in Liguria, Italy, on Sunday most likely came from cemeteries swept away when rivers overran their banks.

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