Europe

Floods in Southern Europe: Dead and missing in Spain and Italy

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Media captionThe Italian village of Castelletto d'Orba was hit by a deluge of river water and mud

A man's body has been found and five people are missing after flooding hit parts of north-east Spain.

Among the missing are a woman and her son, who were inside a mobile home when the River Francolí burst its banks and washed it away.

Flash floods in northern Italy left two people dead on Tuesday and roads in the south of France were blocked as rivers burst their banks.

Parts of Narbonne Plage and Béziers were inundated by floodwater.

A woman aged 68 was swept away by a torrent outside her front door at Cazouls-d'Hérault, north-east of Béziers. The mayor told the France Bleu website that she had been found up to 100m (330ft) away and was rushed to hospital.

Ten departments in southern France were placed on orange alert. Cars were submerged and the waters of the River Orb rose dangerously beneath a historic bridge in Béziers as the town saw 198mm (nearly 8in) - or the equivalent of two months' average rainfall - in just six hours on Wednesday morning.

Forecasters said the Hérault area saw 240mm of rain in the past 24 hours, a 50-year record. Local prefect Jacques Witkowski told reporters that shelter had been given to more than 1,000 people whose homes had been flooded.

Locals were relieved that the floods had not caused as much damage as a year ago in the south-western Aude area, when 15 people died.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption This was the scene at Gruissan, down the coast from Narbonne Plage, on Wednesday

The north-east Spanish region of Catalonia suffered its second period of torrential rain in two months.

Streams became raging torrents, and a 75-year-old man who tried to move his car in the early hours of Wednesday was caught up in the flood at Arenys de Munt. A neighbour said the street had turned into a river and the man was swept away. His body was found on a beach hours later.

A mother aged about 70 and her 40-year-old son were in their prefabricated bungalow at Vilaverd, a village north of Tarragona, when the River Francolí burst its banks and washed the building away.

Three other people are being treated as missing. Two were in a car when it was hit by the flood.

Image copyright Mossos d'Esquadra
Image caption Catalan police were trying to find two missing people after an empty car was found in the river

Police found an empty car in the flooded River Francolí on Wednesday and were trying to find out if it belonged to the missing pair.

A fifth person, from Belgium, was also reported missing when his lorry was found in the same river at l'Espluga de Francolí.

The area around Tarragona was among the worst affected. The roof of the baroque church at Savallà del Comtat caved in.

A seven-year-old girl was among three people hurt when torrential rain swamped a campsite near Barcelona.

Meteorologists blamed the torrential rain on a cold front known as a high-level isolated depression.

Torrential rain also caused major disruption in northern Italy.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption A taxi driver is thought to have died when this road collapsed

Two people died and the Piedmont region asked for a state of emergency to be declared in the Alessandria area.

One of those who died was a taxi driver. Fabrizio Torre, 52, had been driving a customer, reportedly a British man, from Genoa airport to a golf club when his signal disappeared. In his last call to colleagues, he described seeing water everywhere.

The customer was reportedly found alive, clinging to a tree.

Another man of 81 died when his car turned over in Turin province.

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