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Three killed in violent storms

Heavy winds sweep France – with whirlwind devastating 60 buildings in the west – and 11 departments on orange alert

THREE people have been killed in the violent storms that battered a trail across France and have today seen 11 departments on orange alert.

Flood risks from heavy rains have seen Ain (01), Ardèche (07), Côte-d'Or (21), Doubs (25), Isère (38), Jura (39), Loire (42), Rhône (69), Haute-Saône (70) and Saône-et-Loire (71) put on orange alert by Météo France while Drôme (26) faces violent thunderstorms and intense rains.

Today the storms are heading from Rhône-Alpes into Bourgogne and Franche-Comté this morning and remaining for several hours with rains of up to 11cm and up to 4cm falling in an hour, before calmer weather returns in the afternoon as rains head west. Intense rains will continue in Ardèche and Drôme where dozens of lightning strikes are being reported.

The storms left a trail of destruction from the west coast to the middle of the country yesterday with trees blown down, roofs blown off, power lines disrupted, vineyards and farm crops wiped out and a tornado blasting through five communes in Charente-Maritime.

The heaviest toll came in the east where a 66-year-old man was killed in Laiz, near Mâcon in Ain, when he was hit when a roof was blown off. Seven people were hurt and three hospitalised after being hit by falling trees.

Elsewhere in Rhône-Alpes, a 25-year-old man was killed when his car was hit by a falling tree in Limonest, near Lyon. The city itself saw parts of a building and many trees blown down, disrupting the tram service.

Further north, in Aube, a 92-year-old man was found dead under the wreckage of his collapsed barn at Thieffrain in winds that reached 130kph and damaged more than 250 roofs as well as bringing down trees that injured three people.

In Charente-Maritime the second tornado in a week – the first was on Sunday – wreaked 45 minutes of havoc in five communes near Saintes and damaged 60 buildings.

The tornado started near Chaniers then swept towards La Chapelle-des-Pots, Migron and narrowly avoided Matha before devastating Thors et Sonnac. It blew itself out at Beauvais-sur-Matha on the border with Charente and, amazingly, no one was hurt.

Newspaper Sud-Ouest had aerial photographs of the damage (here in the commune of Sonnac) from the Protection Civile’s Dragon 17 helicopter

Local resident and YouTube user damien180888 also put up a video of the tornado:
#Orage venteux sur l'A26 aujourd'hui vers 15h30 à hauteur de Voué. Direction Chalon en #Champagne. (C. Créviller)— Keraunos (@KeraunosObs) September 16, 2015
Intempéries: une troisième victime dans l'Aube— Le HuffPost (@LeHuffPost) September 16, 2015
Orages en Côte-d'Or : les images de nos internautes.— Lebienpublic (@Lebienpublic) September 17, 2015
Nombreux départements en alerte orange pour orages et vents violents : nos conseils sécurité— Gouvernement (@gouvernementFR) September 16, 2015
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