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Third person killed in floods

Departments still on orange alert as storms sweep away roads, bridges and power lines – with special watch on dams

19 June 2013

A THIRD person has died after the thunderstorms that hit the south-west of France and provoked widespread flooding.

Rescue services found the body of the woman after floods had washed her car into a flooded field near Cauneille, south of Dax in Landes. Floods had already claimed the lives of two people in Hautes-Pyrénées; a 72-year-old woman who was swept away from her car and a 75-year-old man washed off a bridge.

Today Landes and Haute-Garonne are still on orange flood alert as meltwaters from the Pyrenees join the heavy rains. All rivers in the area are at abnormally high levels. Workers from power company EDF are also watching flood levels on dams on the Garonne, which are above the “100-year flood” level.

In all, 23 departments are still on orange alert across France, with many in the north-east, where a band of intense thunderstorms is sitting.

In Côte d'Or nearly 60 houses in the villages of Etrochey, Montliot-et-Courcelles and Cérilly near Châtillon-sur-Seine were destroyed or heavily damaged last night when a mini-tornado swept the area and blasted roofs off buildings. Only one person was slightly hurt in the violent winds which, in all, damaged 150 houses.

Residents in the south-west are being warned not to use their cars and being told they are “no safe haven” if caught in running floodwaters.

However, the floods are starting to fall and are revealing the extent of the damage at Lourdes and across Hautes-Pyrénées with electricity and water cut off, plus massive damage to rail and road links.

At Cauterets, the river swept away the road and two houses, creating itself a new riverbed across from where it previously was. At Saint-Laurent-de-Neste the bridge has been swept away by the flood.

One expert put the cost of the damage at €500million for agriculture alone with nearly 300,000 hectares destroyed just after crops had been sown. This year’s harvest is thought to have been destroyed in much of the south-west.
Screengrab from Saint-Laurent-de-Neste: iTélé

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