25 Dead in Mid-Summer Flash Flood

The killer flash flood which struck the Var mid-June has left at least 25 people dead, with 13 still missing – among them holidaymakers in campsites, a baby and a number of elderly people attempting to flee their homes.

25 people died in the Var as a flash flood saw a 10m wall of storm water swamp the region

Devastating storm waters rose more than 10m in a matter of minutes flooding homes and causing extensive damage to life and property.

Tales of disaster and distress were widespread as France continues to be hit by unseasonal and unusual weather patterns which started with Storm Xynthia in February when 51 died .

In Roquebrune sur Argens, a small town in the Var hinterland the torrential rains drowned a 2-year-old while in Luc-en-Provence, a woman of 57 was carried away by a swollen creek. A 19 year-old youth was drowned by strong currents in Draguignan where the death toll has risen to 12 according to reports in Le Parisien.

Météo France said the rain fall reached 150-250 mm and in some areas exceeded 380 mm and that flooding of this intensity had not been seen in the area since 1827. Police said many of the victims were elderly who had been trapped as the waters rose.

Interior Minister, Brice Hortefeux, who visited the scene spoke of “an unprecedented disaster for the region.”

More than 1,500 rescuers worked non stop for days to free people trapped in their cars or on rooftops, using emergency helicopters and boats.

The Socialist president of the PACA (Région Provence-Alpes-Côte d”Azur) region, Michel Vauzelle promised an immediate emergency relief package of one million euros to help communities and residents affected by flooding.

More than 100,000 homes in the Var were cut off from electricity according to the state electricity utility ERDF. Among the worst hit areas were the Gulf of Saint-Tropez, near Draguignan and coastal areas (Saint-Raphaël, Fréjus, Puget-sur-Argens, Bormes-les-Mimosas and Le Lavandou). Up to 200,000 households experienced power outages at various times during the flood.

High speed and regional train services were interrupted between Toulon and Nice.

The amateur video below shows dramatic scenes of the damage:

Story: Ken Pottinger

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