Monday, November 29, 1999

15 dead as heavy rains pelt France

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Paris, June 16 (DPA) At least 15 people have died and 10 were reported missing Wednesday after unusually heavy rains lashed parts of southern France, TF1 television reported, citing local police.All of the fatalities occurred in the south-eastern region of Var, where some 200,000 households lost electricity during the storm. By mid-day Wednesday, power had been restored to about half of those residences.More than 1,000 people had to be rescued by helicopter from their homes because of the swiftly rising floodwaters, which roared through several cities in the region, sweeping away cars and knocking over trees.Some 300 millimetres of rain fell over a 16-hour period in the city of Draguignan, where streets were inundated with water up to two metres deep.In addition, travellers were stranded in railway stations and flooded roads were littered with abandoned automobiles.Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux was scheduled to visit the area during the day Wednesday to assess the damage.As rain eased in the region Wednesday, the national weather service Meteo France said more rain could fall there overnight to Thursday.In addition, the service issued an alert for heavy rains for areas in south-western France.

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