Three dead, sixty injured as storms hit southwest France
Three people were killed and sixty others injured as fierce storms battered southwest France late Tuesday, police said.
The three victims died in Biscarrosse in the Landes area south of Bordeaux, "probably the victims of falling trees," police commander Eric Soupra said, adding that the toll was provisional.
Seven other people were seriously injured in the area, plus one in the neighbouring Gironde district to the north, while 60 people were listed as less seriously injured.
In Landes, the worst-hit areas were Mimizan and Biscarosse, where winds gusted up to 158 kilometres per hour (98 mph), according to Meteo-France.
There were also reports from campers of three people missing in the area.
In the town of Blaye, in the Gironde estuary, one person suffered a heart attack and was rushed to hospital.
At Arcachon, on the west coast, a yachtsman and two swimmers were saved from high waters earlier in the evening.
A thousand people sought shelter in public buildings in Biscarosse and surrounding areas, said local civil security chief Colonel Max Boulet.
Many of these were left without shelter as camp sites were ravaged and roads cut off.
Biscarosse Mayor Alain Dudon said that an emergency medical centre had been set up and that after that those affected were being sheltered and fed, despite the fact that the area was without electricity. Phone services were also affected, he added.
There were similar, sporadic problems with electricity and phone lines throughout the affected areas.
The storms brought with them torrential rain. In Bordeaux, winds of 150 kilometres per hour hurled tree branches to the ground, blocking several roads, although there were no immediate reports of serious damage.
Further up France's west coast, in the Charente-Maritime district, five people, including two children, were injured when a tree fell on their farm campsite.
In the Pyrenees region just north of Spain, emergency services were also busy.
The bad weather also hit Cognac, further north, where roads were blocked and roofs destroyed.
Reinforcements for the emergency services were being bused in from neighbouring areas.