French flood toll rises to 32

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The Independent Online
AVIGNON (AFP) - Rescue workers in helicopters scoured valleys near the river Rhone yesterday as the death toll in France's worst floods since 1958 rose to 32. At least 50 people are missing.

Most of the dead came from the town of Vaison-la-Romaine in the Vaucluse department to the east of the Rhone, where on Tuesday a 50ft wall of water rushed down the river Ouveze, a small Rhone tributary. The flood swept away 50 houses and devastated camping grounds full of tourists, many of whom were swept to their deaths.

In four hours, the town received twice the average monthly rainfall, accompanied by winds up to 75mph.

Four people were also killed in the Ardeche department, west of the Rhone, and one in the Drome, to the south. Paul Quiles, the Interior Minister, after a quick visit to the area, sent FFr600,000 ( pounds 71,000) to the region. Reinforcements were called in to help with search and rescue, with 1,500 military and civilian workers, backed by 16 helicopters, plying the devastated area.

The storm front was reported moving east across the north of Corsica and Italy, where three people were reported missing yesterday.

In October 1958, floods in the Gard valley, another Rhone tributary, killed 36 people.

Flood toll, page 8

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