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Freak waves smash French Riviera

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2010-05-05

Massive waves have hit the French Riviera between Nice and Cannes causing major material damage to the densely-populated coast. The freak weather struck as the region is preparing to host the 63rd Cannes Film Festival.

Freak waves battered the southern French coast between Cannes and Nice on Tuesday afternoon, causing major damage to beach constructions only a few days before the Cannes film festival is set to begin.

Ten-metre-high waves (33 feet) battered the coastline, leaving one woman with a fractured leg and causing major material damage.

"There were very big waves this afternoon that caused major material damage to beach constructions, but there were no disappearances," regional authorities told AFP.

In Cannes, some 20 restaurants were damaged and several cars overturned.

In Nice, not only the beaches were closed but also part of its famous Promenade des Anglais.

The timing of the natural disaster – days before the opening of the tourist season – could spell economic disaster for the French Riviera.

The owner of Castel, a trendy beachside restaurant in Nice, told local daily Nice-Matin he was unsure whether his business could reopen this year.

“It’s terrible. We feared for our lives when the waves turned into seven to eight-metre-high monstrous bombs. It was out of question to resist”

The Cannes Film Festival is set to begin on May 12.
 

Date created : 2010-05-05

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