Paris. At least 13 people have been killed in southwestern France by some of the worst flash floods in a century, local authorities said on Monday.
Television pictures showed raging, muddy rivers swollen by torrential rain that had uprooted trees, knocked over concrete power pylons and swept away cars in the southern region of Aude, near the medieval hilltop city of Carcassonne.
National emergency services spokesman Michael Bernier said 13 people had been killed and one person was still missing. Thousands were being evacuated from the area, where officials said up to seven months’ worth of rain had fallen overnight. “The death toll risks going up,” a spokesman for the Interior Ministry told BFM TV.
Seven helicopters were scrambled to rescue people from the roofs of their homes, and rough weather was making operations difficult, the prefect of Aude, Alain Thirion, said.
General view of remains of a bridge that was destroyed after flash floods hit the southwestern Aude district of France after several months’ worth of rain fell in just a few hours overnight, in Villegailhenc, France, October 15, 2018.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who will be heading to the disaster zone on Monday, said 350 firemen were helping the rescue effort and up to 350 more would be drafted in. “We’re being kept informed of the situation hour by hour,” he said.
Among the worst hit areas were the villages of Conques-sur-Orbiel and Villardonnel, where the water rose as high as the first-floor windows of some houses. The Aude region is a popular tourist destination with ancient towns and villages in its hilly peaks stretching down to the Mediterranean.
An emergency worker walks past damaged cars after flash floods hit the southwestern Aude district of France after several months’ worth of rain fell in just a few hours overnight, in Villegailhenc, France, October 15, 2018 as Reuters mentioned.