Flash floods kill at least 22 in southern France
At least 22 people have died in flash floods in the Draguignan area near the Mediterranean coast, officials say. Rescue workers are searching for a handful of missing people in the debris. There were more storms Thursday morning but less severe than the previous downpour.
The death toll of flash floods that struck southern France on Tuesday has risen to at least 22, as rescuers continue operations on Thursday. Fresh storms in early morning put the authorities on alert, and residents were advised not to leave their homes.
Nearly 2,000 rescue workers have been drafted to airlift survivors trapped on rooftops out of the Draguignan area near the Mediterranean coast. Hundreds of houses have been flooded and 110,000 homes were left without electricity on Thursday morning.
A prison was evacuated as water flooded its first two floors and its 436 inmates were taken to nearby jails.
The death toll has climbed since early morning as rescuers found the bodies of more victims. A French official has also said most of the victims were old people.
"I fear the (death) toll will go higher," said Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux, who visited the area to see for himself the extent of the damage by the floods that meteorologists said were the worst there since 1827.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to visit the area early next week.