19 die as floods hit France
Sunday 14 November 1999
A mother and her three children died when their home was buried beneath an avalanche of mud in the village of Labastide-Rouairoux in Tarn. An entire family died when their car was swept off the road after a river burst its banks near Mouthoumet in the Aude department.
There were fears last night that the death toll could grow. Six people were reported missing in the Aude after their cars were carried away by flood-waters up to six foot deep. 10 potholers were trapped by rising water near Grimat in the Lot.
A huge breach in the banks of a sewage treatment works at Saint-Laurent- de-la Salanque in the Pyrenees threatened yesterday afternoon to inundate two villages in a mixture of floodwater and sewage. Over 2,000 people, already driven from their homes, had to be moved last night from the village hall where they had taken refuge. Three helicopters were hovering over the village, monitoring the progress of the floods.
River banks and dykes were reported to have collapsed - or be on the point of collapse - in several places in the four departments worst affected.
Many of the victims were trapped in their cars on Friday night as rivers and streams turned into raging torrents, after a day of incessant rain. Such was the ferocity of the floods that several fire-engines which turned out to try to rescue people trapped in their homes were also swept away.
Fifteen villages were still cut off last night. Six army and rescue service helicopters were touring the stricken areas, rescuing people from rooftops and marooned vehicles.
The walled town of Carcassonne in the Aude, one of the most popular tourist sites in France, was a scene of devastation last night after floodwater ripped up paving stones and left cars overturned. In some streets, cars were piled against one another like playing cards. Residents said that the lower part of the town had become a torrent of filthy water, instantly and without warning on Friday evening.
Close to Xavier Domenech's fruit and vegetable shop is a sign on the wall marking the peak of the great floods of 1940, over 15in up the wall. Mr Domenech said that at the height of the floods on Friday, the water had reached over 5ft - four times as high. Looking at the stock of his shop floating in the brown water, he said: "I have lost everything, except my life."
The Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, who comes from south-western France, not far from the stricken areas, sent his "most sincere condolences" to the families of victims.
Dominique Voynet, the minister for the environment, said the scale of the flooding was abnormal and could not just be passed off as a "natural catastrophe". She said questions would have to be asked about the lack of warning and the possibility that modern agricultural and forestry practices had disturbed traditional patterns of drainage.
- 1 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Grandmas keep accidentally tagging themselves as Grandmaster Flash on Facebook
David Haines remembered: Death of British hostage executed by Isis lamented from the Balkans to Sudan
Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton nude pictures exhibition cancelled after artist concedes photos were 'stolen property'
David Haines beheading: David Cameron says Britain will hunt down Isis 'monsters' shown in video murdering aid worker
Piers Morgan attempts to save the Union by promising to go back to the US if Scotland votes 'No' to independence
Jennifer Lawrence to make public appearance after nude photo leaks as Met Gala Ball 2015 co-host
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
George Galloway on Scottish independence: The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
Scottish independence: Britain faces 'constitutional crisis' at next election
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Experience...
£65 - £75 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We are currently seeking Higher L...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Job opportunity for an Early years ...
£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...