Draguignan (France): Rescuers airlifted
survivors and searched for missing people in southern France
on Wednesday after heavy rainstorms triggered flash floods that left
at least 15 people dead, officials said.
Teams of firefighters rushed to help hundreds of people
trapped in their vehicles, houses or on rooftops, in the
Draguignan area near the Mediterranean coast, while
helicopters were sent in to airlift residents to safety.
Emergency teams also moved 436 inmates from a flooded
prison in Draguignan where the water covered the first two
floors and they were taken to nearby jails.
The death toll has climbed since early morning as
rescuers found the bodies of more victims. State authorities
in the Var department said earlier that 11 people had died and
12 were missing.
"This is probably not the final toll," said a spokesman
for the Var department.
Heavy rains yesterday caused water levels to rise swiftly
in the area, preventing many people from fleeing to higher
ground and forcing some to seek shelter on the roofs of their
"We haven`t seen anything like this in a decade," said
the top official for the Var department, Hugues Parant.
Around 1,850 firefighters, soldiers and police officers
and 11 helicopters have been mobilised, officials said, adding
that 1,500 calls for help had been received.
The disaster reached the popular tourist town of Frejus
where more than 1,500 people were taken to safety, many in
inflatable boats or by helicopter airlift to four shelters.