15 dead, 12 missing after flash floods in SE France

08:51, June 17, 2010      

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Fifteen people were killed and 12 others were missing after flash floods struck southeastern France, authorities said Wednesday.

The flash flooding triggered by torrential rain during the past two days turned city streets into rivers that swept away cars, trees and houses and also caused power outages in the Var region, affecting around 100,000 households, French media reported.

Resorting to helicopters and boats, the Var government has deployed close to 1,200 rescuers and 650 police officers to help local residents evacuate affected areas where water reached as high as about 2 meters.

Railway services within the flooded region, including Toulon and Saint-Raphael, have been suspended until Thursday, the state railway company said.

The city of Draguignan, which is located about halfway between Marseille and Monaco, was hit particularly hard, with eight of the known deaths reported there.

The rain has halted for the moment, but another 40 to 50 mms was expected, according to a Meteo France meteorological service forecast.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has already sent condolences to the families of the flood victims and promised non-stop search and rescue for the missing.

Sarkozy said in a statement that his "first thoughts go out to the victims" and underscored his "solidarity with the inhabitants of the Var region."

Source: Xinhua


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