People missing and power cut as storms batter France

Two people are missing, thousands of homes are without power, an airport is shut and trains have been cancelled as severe rain, flooding, and strong winds continue to hit across France and Corsica.

22 December 2019
Corsica has been especially badly-affected by flooding and storms as Storm Elsa and then Storm Fabien hit
By Connexion journalist

Much of the south of the country has been hit firstly by Storm Elsa, and last night and today (Sunday December 22) by Storm Fabien, while parts of Brittany have also suffered flooding.

One man has been missing from Fos-sur-Mer (Bouches-du-Rhône) since Friday night after falling from a sailing boat into the sea. Another man who was missing after the same incident was found holding on to a buoy, in a state of hypothermia. He was rescued and taken to hospital.

An 80-year-old woman is missing in Corsica, emergency services confirmed. She disappeared on Saturday afternoon, after having gone for a walk alone. Teams are continuing to search for her.

Power cuts and damage

More than 100,000 homes are without electricity, especially in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, electricity company Enedis has confirmed.

The Alpes-Maritimes department has suffered widespread damage, especially near Nice and Menton, where there were mudslides due to the rain and wind from Storm Elsa. Some major roads were closed, as were some leading to ski stations, including Isola 2000 and Auron. Nice airport was closed for a time, with some flights continuing to see delays.

Yet, firefighters in the area said that this storm had not been as bad as recent episodes.

A statement from the Alpes-Maritimes gendarmerie said: “It was less strong than we had feared,” while firefighters told the Agence France-Presse: “We took 149 calls, [but] this was [light] in comparison to the last few times.”


Strong winds

Last night saw gusts of up to 150kph hit the southwest of the country and the Atlantic coast as Storm Fabien hit. Winds of up to 102 kph were recorded by Météo France in Bergerac (Dordogne); along with 106 kph in Angoulême (Charente), 102 kph in Sabres (Landes), 100 kph in Tarbes (Hautes-Pyrénées) and 113 kph in Lahas (Gers).


Today (Sunday), trains are not running from Bordeaux to Toulouse, nor on the Bordeaux-Hendaye line, due to objects and trees on the lines after Storm Fabien. Services from Paris to Bordeaux may also be affected.

Corsica badly hit

Gusts of almost 200 kph were recorded last night in Haute-Corse, including 196 kph in Cap Corse. Rainfall reached between 20-180mm, and the island has suffered severe flooding. All airports including Ajaccio remain closed, and there are no ferries running until at least 13h today (Sunday).

Corsica residents are advised to stay at home if possible and safe.

Six departments across the country remain on orange alert, including the Alpes-Maritimes and Haute-Corse for wind; Corse-du-Sud for rain and flooding; and Charente-Maritime, ille-et-Vilaine and Finistère for flooding.

The alerts are expected to remain in place until at least 6h on Monday December 23.

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