France’s southeastern Var region, which lies on the Riviera, remained on alert Monday after severe flooding killed at least two people and forced more than 150 others to be airlifted to safety.
A third man has been reported missing after disappearing from his boat while at least 4,000 homes across the region have been left without power.
One of the two confirmed victims was a 73-year-old man who died in his basement, said Laurent Cayrel, a government official for the Var region. The other was killed after being swept away in his car.
Jacques Politi, mayor of Hyères, a picturesque town along the coast, described the situation as "a historic flood".
Despite reports of receding water levels on Monday morning, the country’s main weather service, Météo France, kept the region on alert, warning residents to act with caution.
A total of 155 people were airlifted from the region’s worst-hit areas on Sunday, and efforts to evacuate people from their homes by boat were still underway.
One local woman told of how she watched from her home as a huge wave swept her empty car away before she was evacuated by helicopter with her five-year-old daughter.
"It was really staggering," she said. "We had called the fire brigade who told us to move the furniture upstairs... We had very little time, the house flooded very quickly."
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will travel to the affected area early Monday, his office said.
Late Sunday, authorities issued a separate flood alert for the river Rhone, which runs through southeastern France.
In an interview in a local paper on Monday Ayrault said that a natural catastrophe announcement would soon be issued, a move which would release state funds for flood relief.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2014-01-20