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Six dead as storm devastation continues in France

Six people have now died and one person is missing after severe flooding in southeast France, as the region suffered intense storms twice in just over a week.

All serious Météo France alerts have now been lifted, but many schools remain closed, roads remain unusable, and local inhabitants are yet to return home after being evacuated.

A sixth person - a 35-year-old woman - was reported to have died on Monday December 2, in Volx (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence), after three other people were confirmed dead, and three emergency service personnel also died in a helicopter accident on Sunday (December 1) as part of rescue operations.

The 35-year-old woman had been visiting family in the commune of Saint-Maime north of Manosque, and decided to take her car home in the rain, despite her family warning her against it. Her car was found almost completely submerged, near the river Le Largue, and her body was found further down the bank.

A 61-year-old woman has also been reported as missing by the Var authorities. The woman’s car was found near the commune of Grimaud (Var) with the windows open, but no sign of the driver. A statement said: “Her family has not heard from her since yesterday night.” Search operations continue.

Météo France said that the height of the rainfall had now passed, but that “a high sense of alert should still be maintained”. Floodwaters are beginning to recede in the Var and Alpes-Maritimes, but “water levels remain high, and there is significant overflow”.

Hundreds of people were evacuated from areas in the Vaucluse, Var and Alpes-Maritimes, especially in areas deemed to be at high risk of more floods.

Two people were injured and three houses destroyed in the commune of Mées, between Manosque and Sisteron, in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, after a 3,000 metre cubed rock fell from the mountainside, caused by “very unfavourable weather conditions over the past few days”. The fall also caused significant damage to gas and electricity supplies, authorities said.

In the Alpes-Maritimes, more than 50 schools were still closed yesterday (Monday December 2), and all school transport services have been cancelled. More than 1,000 homes remain without power in the Var and Alpes-Maritimes, while 1,500 homes were without clean water.

Many roads remain impassable, and regular bus routes have also been cancelled, including on the A8 motorway between Aix-en-Provence and Italy, as well as major roads in the Var. Train company SNCF said that delays may be possible, including in Cannes - where the station has flooded.

Roads to the Nice Côte d'Azur airport have now reopened.

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