Two dead as storms lash SW France

Emergency services at the scene of a fatal collision during yesterday's storms

At least two people have died and 28,000 homes were still without power this morning after yesterday’s storms

AT LEAST two people have died and 28,000 homes are still without power today as winds of up to 120kph lashed the Midi-Pyrénées and Aquitaine regions of southwest France yesterday.

A passenger travelling in a motorhome in Bozouls, Aveyron, died when a falling branch smashed through the vehicle’s windscreen, and a 60-year-old woman in Bira, Dordogne, was killed when the roof of a barn collapsed. Her 40-year-old companion is in hospital with serious injuries, emergency services said.

Police are investigating whether the storms claimed a third victim. An 85-year-old woman died when the vehicle she was in crossed the carriageway in the Tarn and was in collision with a truck travelling the other way. It is not known if the car was blown across the carriageway by strong winds.

At one point yesterday, the forecaster placed 32 departments in a strip from the north of France to the southern end of the Massif Central on orange alert for storms - and between 50,000 and 60,000 households were temporarily blacked out as the high winds and rain brought down trees and power lines.

In the Midi Pyrenees alone, more than 600 firefighters, police officers, local authorities and ERDF staff worked through the night to restore power to homes, mainly in the Lot and Aveyron departments.

A spokesman for the electricity supplier said it was hoped that power would be restored to all homes that remained dark overnight by this evening.

Météo France said it had recorded gusts of 124kph at the Millau Viaduct.

Today, authorities and homeowners are picking up the pieces and counting the cost of the storm, as these images from Le Parisien reveal.

In Angoulême, Charante, 300 tea-dancers were evacuated when part of the ceiling of a gymnasium caved, while firefighters in the department responded to hundreds of calls from residents whose basements were flooding.

Fallen trees stopped trains on the Bordeaux-Bergerac and Limoges- Périgueux lines.

France 3 screengrab

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