Five killed in latest storms to hit southeast France

Red weather alerts have now been lifted for the Var and Alpes-Maritimes, but three departments in the southeast are on orange flood alert following the weekend's storms

Two members of the public and three members of the emergency services died in Sunday's devastating storms in southeast France.

A shepherd and a stables owner were swept away, while rescue workers were killed when their helicopter came down near Marseille while on a reconnaissance and rescue mission.

The bodies were found near the town of Rove, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said in a statement.

In the Var, a shepherd was swept away as he was trying to cross a ford in his 4x4 to tend his flock. His body was found 300 metres downstream from where he was last seen.

Elsewhere in the department, the owner of a stables was found dead two hours after he was washed away while out watching over his animals.

As reported, the Var and Alpes-Maritimes were on red alert for floods on Sunday. While those alerts have been lifted, three departments - Bouches du Rhône (13), Vaucluse (84) and Var (83) have been placed on orange flood alert.

Sometimes referred to as 'épisodes cévenol' or 'phénomène méditerranéen', due to their regularity in the mountainous Cévennes area of southwest France, these storms can bring several months worth of rain in a matter of hours and cause dangerous flash flooding.

Last weekend, six people died in heavy rainstorms in the Var.

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