At least seven dead as fierce storms lash France, Switzerland, Italy

Authorities say hundreds evacuated as torrential rains cause flooding and landslides.

France's northeastern Aube region

Ferocious storms and torrential rains that lashed France, Switzerland and Italy this weekend have killed seven people, local authorities have said.

Three people in their 70s and 80s died in France’s northeastern Aube region on Saturday when a tree crushed the car they were travelling in during fierce winds, the local authority told the AFP news agency on Sunday.

A fourth passenger was in critical care, it added.

In neighbouring Switzerland, four people have died and another two are missing, according to local police, after violent thunderstorms and melting snow caused flooding and landslides in two southern cantons.

Three of the victims were killed early on Sunday in a landslide in the remote Maggia valley, in the Italian-speaking Alpine canton of Ticino, police said in a statement.

The three bodies were recovered in the Fontana area of the Maggia valley and they were currently being identified, while another person was missing in the Lavizzara side arm of the valley, Ticino authorities said.

Difficult rescue efforts

The civil security services said “several hundred” people were evacuated in Valais and roads closed after the Rhone and its tributaries overflowed in different locations.

Emergency services were assessing the best way to evacuate 300 people who had arrived for a football tournament in Peccia, while almost 70 more were being evacuated from a holiday camp in the village of Mogno.

The poor weather was making rescue work particularly difficult, police had said earlier, with several valleys inaccessible and cut off from the electricity network.

The federal alert system also said part of the canton was without drinking water.

Extreme rainfall also struck southeastern Switzerland last weekend, killing one person and causing major damage.

In northern Italy’s Aosta valley, internet users shared images of spectacular floods and swollen rivers rushing down mountain slopes.

Scientists say climate change driven by human activity is increasing the severity, frequency and length of extreme weather events such as floods and storms.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies