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Tornado blacks out 13,500 homes

Dramatic video as freak wind hits Vendée and sea takes a 30m bite out of Gironde coast as storm batters western France

TORNADOES are rare in France - but one left 13,500 homes without power as it ripped through Luçon, Vendée, yesterday.

The freak winds struck at 10.30am, when three vortices formed above the Fougeroux district, ripping the roof off a shed, damaging 12 homes and bringing down the high-voltage power line between Luçon and Grues.

ERDF said power was restored by late afternoon, but the mayor is reported to be considering asking for a natural disaster to be declared.

You can watch a video of the tornado drama in Luçon here.

Meanwhile, hundreds of wavewatchers gathered along the Atlantic coast of France, as storm-force winds propelled 10m-plus waves into land.

Beaches along the southwest coast were closed to walkers, as waves reached 13.5m off the tip of Brittany, 13m in Morbihan, 12.8m at Belle-Île and 9.2m at Anglet.

At Saint-Malo, onlookers watched in awe as waves crashing into land reached the height of a two-storey building, while in Bordeaux, the Garonne broke its banks and the Jacques Chaban-Delmas bridge, which opened in March 2013, was temporarily closed as the waters rose.

Further along the coast, at Montalivet in Gironde, BFMTV reported that 30m of beach was lost to the sea in the storm.

You can see that video report here.

In Biarritz, council officials worked late into the night to build a 3m sandwall in a bid to protect the area around the historic Art Deco casino, which dates from 1929, from this morning’s high tide.

Quimper has suffered badly in the winters storms. Some shops in the town centre were flooded again as 30cm of water inundated one street, while the quays of Landernau, Finistère, found themselves under 40cm of water.

Forecasters have also warned of a high risk of avalanches in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques and Hautes-Pyrénées.

BFM TV has collated dramatic footage of the recent storms here

Photo: Ouest France

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