Deadly flash floods hit southern France

At least 12 dead as overnight torrential rain around Carcassonne sweeps away cars, trees and bridges.

    At least 12 people are known to have died on Sunday night as flash floods swept through villages around the southern French city of Carcassonne, according to the interior ministry's rescue service.

    In the village of Villegailhenc, the river Trapel swelled to such an extent that it swept away at least one road bridge.

    Local authorities revised the official death toll downwards from the previous total of 13.

    French emergency service personnel were out in area rescuing people from the floods.

     

    All this happened suddenly and in the hours of darkness as the tropical remains of Leslie were lifted over the eastern Pyrenees and the Haut Langeudoc.

    A spell of torrential rain resulted, with Carcassonne recording 70mm of rain in just three hours. The long-term average rainfall for October in Carcassonne is 60mm and, in the last 24 hours alone, 140mm have been collected.

    Rescue workers evacuate residents from a neighborhood after flash floods hit the southwestern Aude district of France after several months' worth of rain fell in just a few hours overnight, in Trebes, France [Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters]

    Local reports describe waters rising by seven metres in a few hours and people scrabbling onto their roofs to await rescue. Flooding is not uncommon in this region when thunderstorms grow over the high ground, and flash-flooding down the valleys is often destructive. However, this could be the worst event for 20 years.

    The French weather service, Meteo France, issued a warning of flood risk for all surrounding areas for 24 hours.

    Over the next few days, the flood risk remains with northeast Spain, southern France, Corsica and Sardinia at risk.

    A man rides past a damaged car in the town of Villegailhenc, southern France [Fred Lancelot/AP Photo]
    A French rescue worker stands on a road that is partially washed away after flash floods hit the southwestern Aude district of France [Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters]
    Rescue workers evacuate residents from a neighborhood after flash floods hit the southwestern Aude district of France [Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters]

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News