Thursday 20 June 2019

Two held over French campsite where man went missing after floods

The Ardèche river in southern France which burst its banks. Photo: PA
The Ardèche river in southern France which burst its banks. Photo: PA

David Chazan

Two Germans have been arrested on suspicion of running an illegal campsite in southern France after it was hit by flash floods, leaving one man missing.

Two senior officials of a German youth organisation that ran summer camps for children and young people were being questioned by police yesterday after it was alleged the campsite had no official approval. The Planjole site in Saint-Julien-de-Peyrolas, about 50km north-west of Avignon, is in an area prone to flooding.

The pair remained in custody yesterday, facing possible charges of "causing injury and endangering lives, working illegally and running a campsite without permission," said Eric Maurel, the Nimes public prosecutor. About 1,600 people, mostly campers, were rescued by helicopter on Thursday night as the authorities ordered the evacuation of several sites in the Gard, Ardèche and Drôme areas.

Ten people were treated in hospital for minor injuries or hypothermia. Empty caravans and cars were swept away. Some were smashed into trees. The Ardèche river burst its banks in several places after torrential rain fell on hillsides north-west of the Riviera. BFM TV said "two months of rain fell in just two hours".

Some holidaymakers returned to their campsites yesterday as the search continued for the missing man, described as a 67-year-old German who was helping to supervise children. His battered van was found empty after the waters receded.

© Daily Telegraph, London

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