France floods: Six people killed in the Aude overnight

A car is submerged in rising flood waters in Leuc, south of Carcassonne

At least six people have died in the Aude department (Occitanie) after the heaviest rain in over 100 years caused flash flooding overnight (Sunday October 14 to Monday October 15).

The department is still on red alert for strong rain, Météo France has said. Between 160-180 mm of water fell around Carcassonne and the surrounding region in just five hours, it has been confirmed.

Firefighters were called 250 times overnight in Carcassonne.

Rain is still falling in the region, with the flood levels at record levels not seen since 1891, according to flood warning service Vigicrues.

In a statement, Vigicrues said: “We are not far off the seven-metre level seen [in 1891]. Water levels rose very quickly in the first half of the night [but] the level of the Aude [river] is no longer climbing quickly, and we seem to be at the peak.”

It is still warning people to stay alert.

The Aude has been recorded at a peak of seven metres at Trèbes, but is expected to continue climbing until midday, perhaps as high as 10m.

Residents have been warned not to use the adjacent streets or any bridges, and to stay at home.

Evacuations are taking place in Estagnols, Pezens, Istagnac and Cuxac d'Aude, the prefecture has confirmed.

Local roads and train services - including between Narbonne and Carcassonne - are disrupted. Most schools and collèges are closed.

Aude official Alain Thirion explained that “one woman was carried away by the flooding in Villardonnel”, while four other people died in the commune of Villegailhenc.

He said: “At least one person was carried away in their sleep, but for the others, the circumstances are not completely established at this point.”

At least one other person was injured in a house collapse in Cuxac.

As well as the red alert in the Aude, orange alerts continue for Aveyron, the Haute-Garonne, the Hérault, the Pyrénées-Orientales, the Tarn, and the Tarn-et-Garonne.

Météo France is predicting that there will be a total of 200-350mm of rain in the Aude, from the Corbières region across to Carcassonne.

The rain storms are expected to wane in intensity by lunchtime across the entire region, although rainfall could reach 150-200mm in the at-risk areas in the meantime.

(Météo France / Vigilance.meteofrance.fr / Screenshot)

Strong winds from the south-east - contrary to the direction of the water running to the sea - could cause a flood risk, but all alerts should be coming to an end by Monday night, Météo France said.

The Aude prefecture has opened a national number for anyone seeking information (in French), on 04 68 10 29 00.

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