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One dead as storm batters south-east

Woman dies under mudslide in storm that closed motorways and airport, hit trains and forced hundreds to be evacuated

5 November 2014

CLEARING-UP work started this morning after violent winds and torrential rain battered the south-east and east of France causing the death of one woman, closing Nice Airport and leaving thousands without power.

The A8 France-Italy motorway was closed by a mudslide in Nice, as was the A47 outside Lyon, and rail traffic between Lyon and Saint-Etienne was halted due to flooding at Trèves.

Dozens of roads in the south-east were closed, including the seafront Promenade des Anglais in Nice where boulders had been thrown 30m by waves driven by the wind. The Boulevard du Midi in Cannes was also closed.

Nice Airport was still closed early this morning as staff worked to clear the runways and taxiways of debris left by the storm. It reopened about 11.00.

Around 90 buildings, including 43 schools, in Nice were hit by flooding caused by 20cm of rain in a few hours as the Alpes-Maritimes were hardest hit by the storms.

Pompiers saved one homeless man who had been sleeping under an arch of a bridge over the river Paillon in the city – which had risen quickly to three metres over its normal level.

Boats were driven ashore on the beach at Cannes and at Villefranche-sur-Mer, where pompiers saved one man.

This morning the storm front had moved towards Italy and Austria and all the orange storm alerts were lifted this morning but Bouches-du-Rhône, Gard and Vaucluse were still on orange alert for rivers flooding as were Saone-et-Loire and Vosges.

At Saint-Blaise, just north of Nice, a 32-year-old woman died when she was buried under a mudslide at the back of her house. A mother, she had just returned home from work as a nurse.

Further west, at Avignon, where the Rhône had burst its banks, campsites were evacuated and in Bouches-du-Rhône caravans were overturned in a park at Martiques.

Residents in more than 40 houses in Lamotte-du-Rhône, near Avignon, were evacuated as were 70 people living in Saint-Symphorien d'Ozon (Rhône) because of flooding.

More than 6,000 homes were also without electricity in Ardèche.
Cannes boat ashore photo: Eytan Bendennoune @eytan_b

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