South of France hit by devastating floods

Sylvain Thomas, AFP | Flooding in the southern French city Montpellier on September 29

Around 60 towns in the south of France have been officially declared natural disaster sites following severe flooding caused by torrential downpours, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced on Tuesday.


Flood waters inundated roads and highways, engulfing cars after the Lez river, which flows by the coastal city of Montpellier, burst its banks.

More than 4,000 people across the rain-soaked region spent the night in emergency centres, schools, train stations or the airport, the local government said in a statement.

According to the authorities, emergency workers were called out more than 1,200 times, backed by three helicopters.

"We will put in place natural disaster measures for about 60 towns," Cazeneuve told local media, adding he would head to the flood-hit region later on Tuesday.

Rains were expected to ease Tuesday and meteorologists downgraded the maximum red alert to orange in the region.

No deaths have been reported from the latest round of storms to lash the Herault region, where four people died when a flash flood swept through their campsite 10 days ago.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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