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Red alert for western France as storm winds set to reach 160 km/hr

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Red alert for western France as storm winds set to reach 160 km/hr
Photo: Météo France
16:44 CET+01:00
The storms in western France are getting stronger, with residents urged to stay inside as red alerts are issued.
Violent winds and flood risks have prompted national weather agency Météo France to put three western France departments on red alert, its top level of warning. 
 
The departments are Charente, Charente-Maritime, and Gironde, with the agency predicting winds of up to 160 km/hr on Friday night. 
 
It urged residents in the area not to travel and to stay inside at all costs.
 
The storm will be "very violent and capable of causing huge damage that could affect people for several days", it added.
 
This damage may include electricity and telephone lines, and residents have been warned that there are risks of cuts. 
 
 
The agency put a further 11 departments on orange alert, its second highest warning level. 
 
The departments are: Ille-et-Vilaine, Loire-Atlantique, Landes, Deux-Sèvres, Maine-et-Loire, Mayenne, Vendée, Côtes-d'Armor, Finistère, Manche, and Morbihan. 
 
In its 4pm bulletin it added another 11 departments to the orange alert - taking the total to 22. 
 
The new departments on alert are: Allier, Cher, Corrèze, Creuse, Dordogne, Indre, Indre-et-Loire, Loire, Puy-de-Dôme, Vienne, and Haute-Vienne. 
 
Météo France said that gale force winds would bring more "very strong waves" to the western coastline of France, as well as parts of the northern coast of Brittany and Normandy. 
 
The storm, which hit on Thursday evening, has already caused wave peaks of up to 12 metres. 
 
Residents have been warned of the risks of "marine submersion", where large waves and declining water levels can lead to flooding in coastal areas.
 
Waves thrash the coastline of Lesconil in Brittany on Friday. Photo: AFP
 
"The marine submersion could cause severe and rapid flooding, and the waves could damage coastal infrastructure," the agency said. 
 
The agency urged people to keep away from the coastline and out of the water at all costs.
 
It added that Friday would see winds of up to 130 km/hr.
 
"The wind may disrupt human activities and significant damage is expected," Météo France said, adding that people should keep off roofs and be vigilant about the risks of falling trees. 
 
The alerts are in place until Saturday at 11am. 
 
Waves thrash the coastline of Lesconil in Brittany on Friday. Photo: AFP
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