Thu, June 17, 2010
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Deadly flash floods hit France

2010-06-17 06:55:03 GMT2010-06-17 14:55:03 (Beijing Time)

Violent rain storms near France's Mediterranean coast have caused severe flooding and claimed several lives

Rescue operations underway near France's Mediterranean coast.

At least 11 people have been killed in floods caused by violent rain storms. 12 more are reported missing.

By Wednesday, helicopters had flown more than 450 missions to rescue stranded residents.

This severe flooding came after very heavy rainfall -- more than 350 millimetres (that's nearly 14 inches) fell here in the department of Var in a matter of hours.

Water levels rose to two metres above normal.

Most of the deaths occurred in or around the town of Draguinan, which is normally bathed in sunshine in June.

"It's the first time. We've never seen this before. We're in a dip here, so everything comes this way like a funnel."

More than 1,000 residents spent Tuesday night in temporary refuges set up in local school and public buildings.

"I managed to get my dog out. I left through the window. I was carried away by the current. I managed to catch myself. I got carried away again and then I caught myself again and there you are. And with my husband we went to the neighbours to seek refuge."

French media reported Wednesday that more than 200,000 homes in the area were without electricity or basic services as a result of the storms, the likes of which local officials say they had never seen before.

Simon Hanna, Reuters.

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