Published: Wed, October 17, 2018
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Death toll rising after France is hit by flash floods

Death toll rising after France is hit by flash floods

The death toll from flash floods in southwest France has almost doubled to 13, the French Interior Ministry says.

A nun was swept to her death by rising waters in the village of Villardonnel, where her convent was partially destroyed, and at least four died overnight in Villegailhenc, local authorities said.

Authorities said many people were stranded on rooftops and would have to be evacuated by air because it was too unsafe by boat.

This well-known weather pattern occurs 3 to 6 times a year in the region and almost always triggers flash flooding.

At least 13 people died as violent rainstorms turned rivers into raging torrents in southwestern France on Monday in the latest episode of wild weather in Europe, officials said.

Ten people (according to some data) were victims of the floods in the South of France. The Interior Ministry and Aude officials put it at 12 after two more bodies were recovered in the towns of Trebes and Carcassonne.

The mayor Trebes Eric Ménassi responded: "The tragedy that we have been through was impossible to predict and overwhelming". Several others were injured and at least one was reported missing.

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"There's nothing left. There's just a hole", Villegailhenc resident Ines Siguet said of a ripped-up road where a bridge once stood.

Helene Segura, who lives in Villegailhenc, described the view from her home: "When I look out the window, I can only see water and mud everywhere".

Aude prefect Alain Thirion said that the river in Conques-sur-Orbiel rose by about 20 feet at the height of the storm.

Vigicrues, the French agency that monitors rivers for flood risks, said that water levels were higher than at any time since 1891.

Television images showed waters coursing through French towns and villages, with cars stranded in the floods and piled up on top of each other like children's toys.

This means water levels are forecast to rise further, so residents are advised to stay at home and wait for further instructions from their local authorities.

A security helicopter lifts a resident during rescue operation following heavy rains that saw rivers bursting banks in Trebes, near Carcassone, southern France, on October 15, 2018.

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