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Chaos as bad weather strikes

Alerts across departments as winds, snow and rain leave eighty thousand homes without electricity.

EIGHTY thousand homes were without electricity this morning and two people have died after bad weather hit across France.

Heavy snowfall continues to affect the Massif Central and severe downpours have hit the south east.

Four departments will remain under orange alert by Météo France until 16.00 today - the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, the Hautes-Alpes, the Alpes-Maritimes and the Savoie, with warnings of snow, black ice and avalanches.

The alert has however been lifted for the Auvergne region and the departments of the Ardèche, the Loire, the Lozère and the Var.

Evacuations have taken place in the Vaucluse in the towns of Apt, Bédarrides, Piolenc and Cavaillon due to flooding.

Around 80,000 homes are still without electricity in the Massif Central after heavy snowfall. Power was restored Sunday evening to around 13,000 of 25,000 homes affected in Aveyron.

Around 10,000 residents in Marvejols in Lozère look set to be without electricity throughout the day. A special telephone line has been set up on 0811 000 648.

Traffic has been affected by the bad weather. Heavy lorries and coaches are still banned in both directions on the A89, the Clermont/Brive route, the A71, the Paris/Clermont, route between Montmarault and Clermont-Ferrand, and on the A75, the Clermont/Montpellier route, between Lempdes and Lodève.

Many smaller roads have been closed in the Vaucluse, the Var and the Alpes de Haute-Provence, as well as several sections of the seafront roads in the Alpes-Maritimes, between Antibes and Villeneuve-Loubet, Cagnes-sur-Mer and Saint-Laurent-du-Var and between Roquebrune and the Italian border via Menton.

Trains have been delayed in the south due to torrential rain and strong winds. Around 15 trains were yesterday delayed between two and five hours in the Var, the Bouches-du-Rhône and the Alpes Maritimes.

Four TGVs heading for Metz, Paris, Lille and Brussels were hit by delays of between three and five hours due to a fallen tree.

A 50-year-old motorist died yesterday afternoon after losing control of his car in the bad conditions, which careered into the Loire at Lavoûte-sur-Loire, in the Haute-Loire. A 58-year-old Swiss snow-shoe hiker died in an avalanche in the Jura and his wife has been seriously injured.

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