France floods: Deaths as Var inundated

Rescue workers use a boat as they evacuate people from their homes in the Oratoire neighbourhood of Hyeres-Les-Palmiers on 19 January Image copyright AFP
Image caption The evacuation of residents by boat is continuing

Two people have died and more than 150 people have been airlifted to safety after floods hit south-eastern France, local authorities say.

One man died in his basement and another was swept away in his car while a third person was missing in a boat in the Var area.

Some 4,000 homes have been left without power, officials say.

Local official Laurent Cayrel told a news conference that there had been "record rainfall".

"The situation is very worrying, and it's not going to get any better tonight," he told reporters on Sunday, amid forecasts of further rainfall.

By Sunday evening, 155 people had been airlifted from the worst-hit areas and the evacuation of residents by boat was continuing.

One woman, who was evacuated by helicopter with her five-year-old daughter, said she had seen a huge wave wash her empty car away.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption An orange alert was declared by the French authorities in response to the flooding

"It was really staggering," she said. "We had called the fire brigade who told us to move the furniture upstairs... We had very little time, the house flooded very quickly."

Some 100mm (4in) of rain has fallen in the Mediterranean resort of Nice since Thursday evening, compared with the average of 85mm for the entire month of January.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is expected to travel to the flooded area on Monday morning.

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