€300k aid for tornado victims

Offers of help from across France as aid agencies care for 500 families affected.

4 August 2008

Victims of Sunday night’s tornado, which killed three people in north France, have been offered €300,000 of provisional aid.

The announcement yesterday afternoon was too late for one 70-year-old man who committed suicide on Monday morning after his house was destroyed.

Eighteen people were injured, four seriously according to the area’s prefecture.

Around 700 homes were damaged or destroyed and cars overturned by the tornado which hit several villages but caused the most damage in the town of Hautmont in le Nord.

The assistant to the mayor of Hautmont said around 500 families had been affected, with at least 100 homes uninhabitable.

“The offers of aid have come from all over France. People have been ringing in offering clothes and blankets. One restaurant chain offered 500 meals for this evening,” she added.

Interior Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie, who surveyed the damage by helicopter said: “I’ve rarely seen a situation like this outside of a war zone. It looks like the scenes I saw in the south of Lebanon; you get the impression it’s been hit by an airstrike.”

Prime Minister François Fillon said the response to the natural disaster would be quick – the government has already set aside €300,000 as a provisional sum.

Nearly 200 rescue workers and 80 police were involved in the operation.

The nearby military base at Cambrai has sent out 300 beds while La Croix-Rouge is in the process of setting up showers and cleaning facilities in two municipal halls.

A security cordon has been setup around the north of the town by the CRS to protect empty homes from looters.

Photo:Afp/Francois lo Presti

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