France floods: 16 dead on Riviera after storms

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This was the scene in Cannes overnight

4 October 2015

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Violent storms and flooding have hit south-eastern France, killing at least 16 people with three more missing, officials say.

Three elderly people drowned when their retirement home near the city of Antibes was inundated with floodwater.

Others died trapped in their cars in tunnels and underground car parks as the waters rose.

French President Francois Hollande announced a state of “natural disaster” in the affected region.

He thanked rescuers and expressed the “solidarity of the nation”.

Mr Hollande offered condolences as he visited the retirement home in the town of Biot and urged residents in the region to remain cautious, saying: “It’s not over.”

‘Terrifying’

Heavy rain hit the French Riviera, which lies on the Mediterranean coast and borders Italy, on Saturday evening.

The city of Nice is estimated to have received 10% of its average yearly rainfall in two days alone.

A football match between Nice and Nantes had to be abandoned owing to torrential rain

The train station was flooded, disrupting local services

The river Brague burst its banks, sending water coursing into nearby towns and cities. Social media pictures showed water gushing down the streets of Cannes.

Cannes resident Katya Higham-Stoianova told the BBC: “It was terrifying. We wanted to go out but decided not to as the rain was unbelievably heavy. The level of water was rising very quickly.”

Cannes mayor Davis Lisnard said: “Some cars were carried off into the sea. We have rescued a lot of people, and we must now be vigilant against looting.”

Eric Ciotti, president of the Alpes-Maritimes department, tweeted: “We have lived through an apocalyptic situation that we have never experience before.”

The main motorway through the area has been closed, trains halted and hundreds of tourists sought shelter at Nice airport overnight. About 27,000 homes are without power.

Some concertgoers attending a show by French rock legend Johnny Hallyday at a venue in Nice had to sleep overnight there after becoming stranded.

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