Monday 26 September 2016

Flash floods in French Riviera kills 16 people

* Flash floods kill 16, five others missing
* Floods hit Cannes, other towns on SE coast
* Thousands of homes still without electricity
* Flights diverted from Nice airport overnight

Matthias Galante

Published 04/10/2015 | 20:19

A damaged car is pictured on Boulevard de La Republique in downtown Cannes, southeastern France, on October 4, 2015 after violent storms and floods struck the French Riviera overnight, killing at least 16 people with four others missing, French authorities said. AFP PHOTO / JEAN LIOUJEAN LIOU/AFP/Getty Images
A damaged car is pictured on Boulevard de La Republique in downtown Cannes, southeastern France, on October 4, 2015 after violent storms and floods struck the French Riviera overnight, killing at least 16 people with four others missing, French authorities said. AFP PHOTO / JEAN LIOUJEAN LIOU/AFP/Getty Images
People walk in a damaged street in downtown Cannes, southeastern France, on October 4, 2015 after violent storms and floods struck the French Riviera overnight, killing at least 16 people with four others missing, French authorities said. AFP PHOTO / PatricK CLEMENTEPatricK CLEMENTE/AFP/Getty Images
Damaged car are pictured in downtown Cannes, southeastern France, on October 4, 2015 after violent storms and floods struck the French Riviera overnight, killing at least 16 people with four others missing, French authorities said. AFP PHOTO / PatricK CLEMENTEPatricK CLEMENTE/AFP/Getty Images
A flooded car is pictured by a tunnel near the railway station in downtown Cannes, southeastern France, on October 4, 2015 after violent storms and floods struck the French Riviera overnight, killing at least 16 people with four others missing, French authorities said. AFP PHOTO / JEAN LIOUJEAN LIOU/AFP/Getty Images
A man clears mud off a sidewalk in a street in downtown Cannes, southeastern France, on October 4, 2015 after violent storms and floods struck the French Riviera overnight, killing at least 16 people with four others missing, French authorities said. AFP PHOTO / PatricK CLEMENTEPatricK CLEMENTE/AFP/Getty Images

Flash floods on the French Riviera killed 16 people and five others were reported missing on Sunday, prompting the government to declare a natural disaster in the southeastern tourist region.

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Torrential rain struck the Alpes-Maritimes administrative department on Saturday evening, flooding local towns including Cannes and disrupting transport routes.

A flooded car is pictured by a tunnel near the railway station in downtown Cannes, southeastern France, on October 4, 2015 after violent storms and floods struck the French Riviera overnight, killing at least 16 people with four others missing, French authorities said. AFP PHOTO / JEAN LIOUJEAN LIOU/AFP/Getty Images
A flooded car is pictured by a tunnel near the railway station in downtown Cannes, southeastern France, on October 4, 2015 after violent storms and floods struck the French Riviera overnight, killing at least 16 people with four others missing, French authorities said. AFP PHOTO / JEAN LIOUJEAN LIOU/AFP/Getty Images
People stand in front of a damaged car in downtown Cannes, southeastern France, on October 4, 2015 after violent storms and floods struck the French Riviera overnight, killing at least 16 people with four others missing, French authorities said. AFP PHOTO / PatricK CLEMENTEPatricK CLEMENTE/AFP/Getty Images
People walk by damaged cars in Cannes, southeastern France, on October 4, 2015 after violent storms and floods struck the French Riviera overnight, killing at least 16 people with four others missing, French authorities said. AFP PHOTO / PatricK CLEMENTEPatricK CLEMENTE/AFP/Getty Images

The victims included three people killed at a retirement home that was flooded in the village of Biot, and seven inhabitants of the town of Mandelieu-la-Napoule who had attempted to reach their cars in a garage, local government officials said.

Five people were still reported missing on Sunday afternoon, which could push the death toll higher, officials said.

In the resort town of Cannes, home to the prestigious annual film festival, two people were killed, the train station was flooded, and cars were swept along streets by torrents of rain.

Local rail services resumed on Sunday after being suspended overnight, holding up passengers including around 2,000 Italian pilgrims on their way back from Lourdes.

A picture shows a flooded part of the railway station in Cannes, southeastern France, on October 4, 2015 after violent storms and floods struck the French Riviera overnight, killing at least 16 people with four others missing, French authorities said. AFP PHOTO / PatricK CLEMENTEPatricK CLEMENTE/AFP/Getty Images
A picture shows a flooded part of the railway station in Cannes, southeastern France, on October 4, 2015 after violent storms and floods struck the French Riviera overnight, killing at least 16 people with four others missing, French authorities said. AFP PHOTO / PatricK CLEMENTEPatricK CLEMENTE/AFP/Getty Images
A man stands in front of a damaged car in downtown Cannes, southeastern France, on October 4, 2015 after violent storms and floods struck the French Riviera overnight, killing at least 16 people with four others missing, French authorities said. AFP PHOTO / PatricK CLEMENTEPatricK CLEMENTE/AFP/Getty Images
A damaged car is pictured in downtown Cannes, southeastern France, on October 4, 2015 after violent storms and floods struck the French Riviera overnight, killing at least 16 people with four others missing, French authorities said. AFP PHOTO / PatricK CLEMENTEPatricK CLEMENTE/AFP/Getty Images

Train services, however, were expected to remain limited for the rest of Sunday, while some roads also continued to be blocked.

Thousands of homes were still without electricity on Sunday afternoon after as many as 70,000 suffered blackouts the previous evening, power network operator ERDF said.

Visiting the affected zone on Sunday, President Francois Hollande said the government would approve natural disaster status for the area at Wednesday's cabinet meeting and pledged relief payments to help cover damage within three months.

Residents were taken by surprise by the exceptionally violent downpour over Alpes-Maritimes, which lies at the eastern end of France's Mediterranean coast and borders Italy.

People walk by damaged cars in downtown Cannes, southeastern France, on October 4, 2015 after violent storms and floods struck the French Riviera overnight, killing at least 16 people with four others missing, French authorities said. AFP PHOTO / PatricK CLEMENTEPatricK CLEMENTE/AFP/Getty Images
People walk by damaged cars in downtown Cannes, southeastern France, on October 4, 2015 after violent storms and floods struck the French Riviera overnight, killing at least 16 people with four others missing, French authorities said. AFP PHOTO / PatricK CLEMENTEPatricK CLEMENTE/AFP/Getty Images
A picture shows mud on the platform of the railway station in Cannes, southeastern France, on October 4, 2015 after violent storms and floods struck the French Riviera overnight, killing at least 16 people with four others missing, French authorities said. AFP PHOTO / PatricK CLEMENTEPatricK CLEMENTE/AFP/Getty Images
A flooded flat is pictured in downtown Cannes, southeastern France, on October 4, 2015 after violent storms and floods struck the French Riviera overnight, killing at least 16 people with four others missing, French authorities said. AFP PHOTO / JEAN LIOUJEAN LIOU/AFP/Getty Images

Cannes registered close to 180 millimetres (7.1 inches) of rain in three hours at the height of the storm, the interior ministry said.

Flights were diverted away from Nice airport on Saturday evening, leaving some passengers stranded overnight, officials said.

A soccer match between Nice and Nantes in the French first division was abandoned midway due to the rain, while hundreds of people were stranded overnight at a concert venue in Nice after attending a show by French rock legend Johnny Hallyday.

Hundreds of police and fire officers were mobilised for search and rescue operations across areas affected by the floods, while police were also drafted in to patrol shopping areas after reports of some looting overnight.

Reuters

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