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South of France hit by devastating floods

Ben McPartland · 30 Sep 2014, 08:59

Published: 30 Sep 2014 08:59 GMT+02:00

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Just as the Meteorological service Météo France had warned, southern France was hit by a deluge on Monday that left the city of Montpellier under water.

In the department of Hérault around 4,000 people had to be taken into emergency shelters overnight because of the rising flood waters, local authorities said. Emergency services were called out 1,200 times throughout the night to help residents across the region. 

Flood waters streamed down roads and highways in Montpellier, engulfing cars as the Lez river burst its banks in the seaside capital of the Languedoc-Roussillon region.

"In a few hours Montpellier had the equivalent of half a year's worth of rain," Météo-France weather services told AFP, adding the 300mm (nearly 12 inches) which fell on Monday broke all records, which date back to 1957.

(The video below shows two men kayaking through the flooded streets of Montpellier on Monday.)

The heavy rains caused widespread devastation and led to a state of natural disaster being declared in around 60 towns and villages.

(The canoes were out in Montpellier on Monday: Photo: @Monspelliensis/Twitter) 

France's Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve was on his way to the scene on Monday to meet local officials and ensure that all "the forces are mobilized" to ease the crisis.

Due to the amount of rain that fell – around 300mm since the storms arrived on Monday – Météo France has decided to keep the Hérault department on red alert – the highest weather warning level. 

More rain is forecast throughout the morning in nearby areas with the Languedoc-Roussillon set to be affected.

The storms came just ten days after similar severe weather left four people dead in southern France when they were swept away in raging flood waters.

Story continues below…

This tweet picture below shows people having to spend the night in the train station at Montpellier because of the floods.

This report from FranceTV shows the damage caused by the floods.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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