Hundreds rescued from storm floods in south of France

A total 119 children evacuated from a single campsite in Gard, while more took refuge in trees as they awaited rescue in the Ardèche

Rescuers evacuated hundreds of people in the south of France on Thursday as violent storms caused flash floods, transforming rivers and streams into raging torrents.

Most of the 1,600 people rescued were on holiday at campsites. A total 750 people were evacuated in the Gard, including 119 children, many of them members of a group from Germany, who were rescued from a single campsite at Saint-Julien-de-Peyrolas. Evacuations also took place in the Ardèche and Drôme.

More than 400 members of the emergency services helped in the rescues. Helicopters were used to locate campsites in dense woodland and hard-to-reach areas, and perform some rescues.

It is feared a 70-year-old man, believed to be part of the German group, has been swept away by the floods. Four of the children were taken to hospital in Bagnols-sur-Ceze for treatment for hypothermia. They were among 10 people who required medical treatment for minor injuries, Gard gendarmerie said on its Facebook page.

In Berrias-et-Casteljau, in the south of the Ardèche, 84 children at a campsite took refuge in the trees as they waited to be rescued after the nearby river broke its banks.

The mountainous Cévennes region is notorious for the severity of its storms, which can bring several months' worth of rain in a matter of hours, leading to dangerous flash flooding.

Thousands of homes in the Drôme and Ardèche remain without power on Friday morning, after storms knocked down power lines, while numerous rural roads remain impassable.

Even major routes were affected. This was filmed on the A7 on Thursday evening.

More than 44,000 lightning strikes were recorded in the Ardèche alone, while the Gard saw 30,000 strikes, according to France 3 Occitanie.

Several streets in Aubagne (Bouches-du-Rhône) were transformed into rivers, as this video from the daily La Provence shows.

Further north, part of Auxerre hospital was flooded during an overnight storm.

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