One missing as torrential rain hits southern France

Marseille (AFP) –


One person was reported missing on Saturday and hundreds faced evacuation after torrential rains swept southern France, authorities said.

The Gard region, where firefighters reported the missing person, was on red alert after as much as 350 millimetres (13.5 inches) of rain fell in parts of the Cevennes mountain range on the edge of the Massif Central.

A similar amount cut off around 10 departmental roads in the Pont-d'Herault, with prefectural sources indicating one village was isolated as a result.

Helicopters carried out two rescue missions and some 650 rescue personnel were mobilised for three further operations as some 200 people were led to safety in two villages.

Regional fire brigade spokesman Eric Agrinier told BFMTV that some people had reported seeing the missing person's vehicle swept away in a strong current.

The mayor of one commune, Anduze, some 70 kilometres (45 miles) north of Montpellier, told AFP around 100 houses on low ground would have to be evacuated.

She added that two local schools had been opened to provide overnight shelter with further rain expected.

Valleraugue, a village to the west of Anduze, saw 200 people forced to take shelter after local officials reported 45 centimetres of rain fell in 12 hours.

The commune saw 98 centimetres over just 10 hours in an even worse downpour in 1900.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said he would visit the region Sunday afternoon.

The adjacent region of Languedoc was also hit by severe storms as meteorological authorities warned of more downpours to come come across much of the deep south.

Heavy rainfall had blocked several roads from the early hours, prompting local authorities to urge people to stay at home.