This photo provided by Stephane Jourdain, after a torrent of water ripped out the bridge in Villegailhenc, southern France, Monday Oct. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Stephane Jourdain)

Flash floods kill at least 7 people in southwest France

Flash floods have left several people dead in southwest France, with roads swept away and streams become raging torrents as the equivalent of several months of rain fell overnight, authorities said Monday.

Flash floods tore through towns in southwest France, turning streams into raging torrents that authorities said killed at least seven people and seriously injured five others. Some people had to be helicoptered to safety from the roofs of their homes as overnight storms dumped several months of rain in just a few hours.

Authorities said four deaths were clustered around the town of Villegailhenc in the Aude region, where a powerful, roiling surge of muddy water and debris ripped out a bridge.

Even as diluvial overnight rains that swept in from the Mediterranean began to ease Monday morning, France’s Interior Ministry said the toll of seven deaths and five serious injuries could rise.

In Villegailhenc, Ines Siguet said the waters rose so quickly that people were stranded on the roofs of their homes and had to be helicoptered to safety. She posted video of the ripped-up road where the bridge used to be, with the town now cut in half.

“There’s nothing left, there’s just a hole,” the 17-yearold resident told The Associated Press. “It was very violent.”

Related: Fearsome new stage begins as Florence floods inland rivers

Related: Trump to visit Florida, Georgia; search ongoing for missing

Other roads also were flooded, leaving the town cut off. Siguet’s school was shut down amid the destruction.

Alain Thirion, the prefect of the Aude, said some of the dead appeared to have been swept away by floodwaters. In the town of Conques-sur-Orbiel, the river rose by more than six meters (20 feet), he said.

Floodwaters were in some cases too powerful for emergency services to get through, even on boats, he said.

Television images showed waters coursing through French towns and villages, with cars stranded in the floods and piled up on top of each other like children’s toys.

The French government rushed hundreds of rescue workers into flash flood zone and helicopters buzzed overhead. Schools were closed and authorities were urging people to stay home.

John Leicester, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

40 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta

Province’s central zone still has no active cases

Alberta reports just seven new COVID-19 cases

‘Today’s numbers mark an occasion to be celebrated’

Lacombe County Reopens Sandy Point Beach for the season

Signage is posted at the beach outlining public health orders

Still no confirmed active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer, central zone

There are 15 new confirmed cases were in Alberta, the province said Thursday

Lacombe’s Cilantro and Chive has ‘food on plates’ again

Dining room service opens within health guidelines

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The Lacombe Express covers the stories that matter to you and to our community

PODCAST: The Expert tackles the return of sports

Cam Moon, Joe Whitbread, Byron Hackett and Todd Vaughan discuss how sports can come back

Red Deerians protest against racism on Saturday

This was the third protest in the city this week

‘It’s brewing’: Inmates, guards worry about violence after COVID-19 lockdown

‘Thirteen weeks in a cage the size of your (bathroom) has been pretty devastating’

Feds sign $105-million deal with Bombardier for two new Challenger jets

Department of National Defence announced the deal with Bombardier on Saturday

‘Alarmed:’ Health critic calls for more data on COVID-19 in trucking industry

Public Health Agency of Canada does not collect information on long-haul truckers

Montreal man believes rough arrest caught on video was racially motivated

Montreal man believes rough arrest caught on video was racially motivated

N.B. police shooting of Indigenous woman leads to questions on ‘wellness checks’

N.B. police shooting of Indigenous woman leads to questions on ‘wellness checks’

Most Read