Hailstones 'size of ping-pong balls' damage vineyard crops
Storms hurled hailstones the size of ping-pong balls on to crops and vineyards in south-eastern France over the weekend, prompting authorities to declare a state of "natural emergency".
The pellets bored holes through protective netting to hammer the fruit below. The worst-hit area, the Auvergne-Rhone-Alps region, is known as the "orchard of France".
"The sky has fallen on our heads and the year stops here for us," said one fruit grower in Pont-de-l'Isere.
Agriculture minister Didier Guillaume said the state would declare a natural emergency to enable farmers to get insurance payments.
The hail also destroyed part of the Saint-Joseph vineyards and reportedly wiped out half of the Croze-Hermitage harvest, despite it having anti-hail devices.
"In 35 years, I've never seen such violence," said Pierre Combat, president of a wine inspection unit.