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Sudden snowstorm leaves one dead, many without electricity in southeast France

One dead and 140,000 homes left without electricity after an early winter storm in the Rhone-Alpes region of France.
One dead and 140,000 homes left without electricity after an early winter storm in the Rhone-Alpes region of France. Pascal Guyot, AFP, Archives.

A man died due to unexpectedly heavy snowfall in the Rhône-Alpes region in France. Rail traffic was also disrupted and 300,000 homes were left without electricity due to the weather.

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The préfecture said a 63-year-old motorist died on Thursday evening in the town of Roche, in northern Isère, after a tree fell.

The man was trying to move a tree that had fallen under the weight of snow around 7pm, with the help of other people, when a second tree fell on them. A 27-year-old man was also injured and hospitalised in Bourgoin-Jallieu.

Snowfall has caused power cuts, depriving some 300,000 households of electricity in four departments - Ardèche, Rhône, Isère and Drôme - according to energy provider Enedis.

“Our teams are being deployed but the situation is still evolving,” said Enedis.

In Isère, SNCF announced that train traffic was interrupted on three lines from Grenoble “at least until midday on Friday” due to trees falling on the tracks or threatening to do so.

The routes concerned are Grenoble-Lyon, Grenoble-Valence and Grenoble-Veynes.

Around 6pm on Thursday evening, passengers were evacuated from the Grenoble-Lyon train at Bourgoin-Jallieu, reported an SNCF Rhône-Alpes spokeswoman.

Orange alert

The Ardèche, like the Rhône, Loire, Ain, Isère, Drôme and Saône-et-Loire, was on orange snow-ice alert on Thursday.

Up to 20 centimetres of snow at low altitude and up to 30 centimetres in higher areas was expected overnight, according to Météo France.

In Isère, the prefecture has called on the population to postpone any non-essential travel, whether by car or on foot, and not to engage in snow removal or antenna restoration operations on a roof, for example, which could prove dangerous.

In the Loire, school transport was suspended on Friday, the departmental council announced Thursday evening, stating that “schools will nevertheless remain open”.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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