Two killed, 20 missing as floods submerge France's SE

Katie Ramirez
October 8, 2020

At least five people were reported dead in the Italian region of Liguria and at least four in France, with several others missing, as a wave of bad weather caused flooding over the weekend that devastated northwestern Italy and southeastern France.

The equivalent of almost a year's average rainfall fell in less than 12 hours when a storm hit border areas of France and Italy on Saturday.

An Italian fireman died and at least 19 people were unaccounted for in France and Italy on Saturday after floodwaters tore through border regions.

They include two people from Germany driving with their 11-year-old and 6-year-old grandchildren, and a pair of brothers returning from France.

Seven bodies were found in a region straddling the French-Italian border near Nice on Sunday after torrential rains swept houses and roads away, officials in both countries said.

Local authorities gave shelter to some 200 people overnight, while food and thousands of bottles of water were being airlifted into remote villages cut off by the storms.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex and Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin arrived in the area later on Saturday. She could not say how many or where they came from, and it was unclear whether the bodies were among the eight reported dead in Italy from the storm.

"The roads and about 100 houses were swept away or partially destroyed", he told French news channel BFM.

Authorities in Venice expected the city - which also suffered violent storms in August - to be submerged by an "acqua alta", an occasional tidal peak coming in from the Adriatic to reach the Venetian Lagoon and flood as far as the iconic Saint Mark's Square.

Italy Europe Storms
A partially collapsed bridge over the Sesia river in Romagnano Sesia northern Italy

One man was reported to have been swept away by a swollen river after exiting his vehicle in the province of Vercelli.

"Together we will overcome this ordeal", French President Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter Saturday.

Saint-Martin-Vesubie, a French village that is home to 1,400 people and located north of Nice, was completely cut off by the storm.

Meteorologist Luca Mercalli told the Fatto Quotidiano daily on Monday that in Limone Piemonte and the Roya Valley "some 600 millimetres of rain fell in fewer than 24 hours, half the annual average rainfall in just one day".

Four people have died and up to 18 more are missing in floods and heavy rain in south-eastern France, local authorities said on Monday.

Many anxious families had not heard from their relatives due to mobile phone services being cut off in the area.

Meteo France issued a danger alert on Friday and all schools in the region had been closed.

Rescue efforts included 871 personnel working on the ground, as well as military helicopters and troops helping with emergency assistance, Castex said.

He added that about 700 people were staying in hotels or other accommodation sites after being evacuated from their homes.

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