Two missing as severe floods hit southeast France

[UPDATE Sunday 24, 12h41: The bodies of the two people who were missing have now been found. Interior minister Christophe Castaner is expected to visit the Var and Alpes-Maritimes today.]

24 November 2019
Thousands of firefighters were mobilised overnight to help in rescue missions due to two months of rain falling in 24 hours
By Connexion journalist

Two people are missing and thousands of homes are without power after two months’ worth of rain fell in south-east France, as Météo France maintains an orange alert for flooding in five departments.

The missing people are both from the Var department, including a 77-year-old man from Saint-Antonin-du-Var. The other person went missing in Le Muy, after falling in the water when a lifeboat capsized during a fire brigade rescue mission. The other five passengers were saved.

Many other people have been injured, including a 78-year-old man from the Alpes-Maritimes who was hospitalised with hypothermia after being rescued from a mudslide; and a 36-year-old woman who was severely injured after being swept away by a wave on the coast in Nice.

More than 1,000 firefighters were mobilised in the Var alone, with 2,000 emergency calls coming in and 537 interventions taking place overnight. More than 550 firefighters were on alert in the Alpes-Maritimes.

Hundreds of residents have been evacuated - some as a preventative measure - from towns including Hyères and Fréjus, and electricity company Enedis has confirmed that more than 4,000 people are without electricity in Cannes, Mandelieu, Villeneuve-Loubet, Puget, Saint-Tropez and Le Muy.

The region had been on the highest red alert until 6h today (Sunday November 24). An orange alert for flooding and rain is still in place in the Var and Alpes-Maritimes, alongside alerts for flooding in Puy-de-Dôme, Bouches-du-Rhône, and the Gard.

The A8 motorway had been closed but has since re-opened, but some exits and smaller roads remain shut. Train travel is disrupted between Toulon and Nice, as are all Alpes-Maritimes lines towards Italy. SNCF is expecting to restart services at around midday today.

The floodwaters in most areas have now begun to lower, but conditions remain dangerous, including in surrounding departments such as the Ardèche.

Jean-Luc Videlaine, prefect in the Var, said: “We are seeing the floods drop overall, but the threat of overflow still exists. The rivers are very far from being back in their banks.”

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