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Storms latest: North east France on alert

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Storms latest: North east France on alert
Barèges : Aerial picture taken on June 19th, 2013 over Bareges shows a damaged road next to a flooded river. Photo Laurent Dard/AFP
09:13 CEST+02:00
Weather warnings remained in place across much of France on Thursday as unseasonal violent storms continued to wreak havoc in many regions. The storms have now claimed the lives of three people. Read the latest weather updates here.

In all, 27 departments across France remained on orange alert on Thursday with the prospect of further storms and floods likely throughout the day.

Much of the north and east of France remained on alert after storms more akin to the tropics battered the region on Wednesday evening.

In the latest example of the extreme weather to hit France, a mini tornado swept through the town of Châtillon-sur-Seine in the eastern Cote d’Or region destroying several houses.

"It was hell, many houses have no roofs, barns were struck by lightning. There was a terrible wind. It was endless,” one witness told BFMTV.

There was better news on Thursday for the south west of France, which has been devastated by flood waters in recent days.

Météo France finally lowered the warning level from red to orange in the departments of Pyrénées-Atlantiques and Hautes-Pyrénées.

SEE THE DAMAGE CAUSED BY THE FLOODS IN OUR GALLERY OF IMAGES

France’s meteorological service said however that the central and western Pyrénées region still faced the prospect of floods, which have claimed three lives in recent days.

The latest person to lose their life was a motorist who drowned in his car in the Landes region of the south west overnight on Wednesday.

Earlier, a 75-year-old man was swept to his death after the flood waters at Luz-Saint-Sauveur in the Pyrenees turned a local stream into a torrent.

That tragedy followed the death of a woman in her 70s who drowned overnight on Tuesday after becoming trapped in her car as it was swept away by severe flooding in the town of Pierrefitte-Nestalas, Haute-Pyrénées.

More than 2,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes and the Catholic shrine at Lourdes was submerged under a torrent of raging water and has remained closed to pilgrims.

Thousands of visitors had to be evacuated from submerged hotels and re-housed in other parts of town.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls and his colleague the Minister for Ecology Delphine Batho visited Lourdes on Wednesday to survey the damage caused by the raging waters, which had been boosted by rapid snow melt in the Pyrénées.

The Paris region was also hit by storms again on Tuesday evening as was the north east of the country.

Between 5pm and 8pm the emergency services in Paris were bombarded with over 6,000 calls, around the number they would normally receive in a 24 hour period.

This is how the weather map looks for France on Thursday.

A video from France's BFMTV also shows the extent of the damage in south west France. (Commentary is in French)

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