French flooding: German missing after hundreds evacuated from campsites

Jan Cross
August 11, 2018

A British holidaymaker has described being terrified as a "raging river" submerged her campsite in southern France after flash flooding forced the evacuation of hundreds of people.

A top Gard official, Thierry Dousset, told BFM-TV about 750 people were evacuated from five campsites.

A fellow camper told France's BFMTV channel that as the river surged through the site, he could hear children's cries in the trees.

After a hot spell, flash flooding hit the northern part of the Gard region, turning the Ceze and L'Ardeche rivers into churning waterways that quickly spilled out of their banks.

A deluge of heavy rain left summer campsites in Gard, Ardeche and Drome completely submerged by flood water, leaving hundreds of tourists scrambling to safety.

"The level and speed of the river today was extraordinary - we woke up in about a foot of water", Rachel Buchanan said.

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The man, who is believed to be in his 70s, was helping supervise over 119 German children and youths who were camping in Saint-Julien-de-Peyrolas.

"Driving in our camper van was very frightening as the road by the river was completely under water and waterfalls had appeared from nowhere crashing down the gorge".

Trapped by a fast-flowing torrent, he sought shelter inside his caravan - but the vehicle was swept away, the AFP news agency reports.

Helicopters were used to spot campsites and occasionally to perform rescues.

Flood alerts continue across the southeast region, and 17,000 homes in the southwest and northeast are without power.

Many roads in the area were left cut off, with the authorities urged members of the public to be prepared for more disruption.

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