Europe

French Riviera floods: Death toll rises to 19

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Media captionFootage filmed in Cannes showed floodwater rushing through the streets

At least 19 people, including one Briton, have been found dead following flash floods on the French Riviera.

The death toll rose after two bodies were discovered on Monday. One person remains missing but another was found alive, according to reports.

Violent storms and heavy rain on Saturday evening sent torrents of water and mud through several towns.

As well as the Briton, an Italian woman and a Portuguese man were also among those killed, AFP news agency said.

French President Francois Hollande has announced a state of "natural disaster" in the affected region.

Forecasters have faced criticism over the effectiveness of weather alerts.

'Apocalyptic'

The area is estimated to have received more than 10% of its average yearly rainfall in two days alone. Rivers burst their banks, sending water coursing into nearby towns and cities.

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Media captionLondoner Warren Greene - camping at Antibes - said the flood level rose to waist-height "within minutes"

Divers found one body in the worst-hit town of Mandelieu-la-Napoule on Monday.

Eight are now confirmed killed there after being trapped in garages when they tried to remove their cars, officials say.

In other developments on Monday:

  • Another body was found in an underground parking lot in Cannes, leaving one person still missing in the city
  • A 90-year-old man reported missing was found alive in Antibes, according to local media
  • Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told Europe 1 (in French) that two people had been sent before a judge while seven others remained in custody after being arrest on suspicion of looting

France floods: Your stories

Three elderly people drowned when their retirement home in Biot, near the city of Antibes, was flooded.

Visiting the home on Sunday, President Hollande offered his condolences and urged residents to remain cautious, saying: "It's not over."

Hundreds of volunteers have been helping clear debris and clean homes affected.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The waters piled cars and vehicles on top of each other in Biot

"We have lived through an apocalyptic situation that we have never experienced before," Eric Ciotti, president of the Alpes-Maritimes department, tweeted following the disaster.

Forecaster fallout

Mr Ciotti also questioned the use of an orange alert to warn residents, rather than the more serious red alert.

Christian Estrosi, the deputy mayor of Nice, added his criticism in an interview with BFMTV on Monday, saying the area received so many orange alerts that people had stopped taking all the necessary precautions.

But he denied any fallout with weather forecasters, who insisted they did not have the technical ability to predict the intensity of the storms in time.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption A woman walks past a flooded car in a mud-covered street in Mandelieu-la-Napoule

Thousands of homes remained without electricity on Monday morning following the floods.

Meanwhile Bernard Giampaolo, director of the Marineland amusement park in Antibes, said three loggerhead turtles were still missing after the enclosures were hit.

He told Nice Matin newspaper (in French) that polar bears, orcas and dolphins had survived, although the park was still without power.

Chickens, goats and sheep had been washed away, the newspaper reported.

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