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Medieval Carcassonne braced as deadly floods hit south west France

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Medieval Carcassonne braced as deadly floods hit south west France
Photo: Elizabeth Dale/Claire McGonigle
15:52 CEST+02:00
Residents have been told to stay indoors, bridges have been closed and the hospital is partly underwater: Medieval Carcassone was braced on Monday as floodwaters that have claimed 10 lives swept through the fortified city.

The region around Carcassonne in the Aude department of south-western France has already been badly hit by flooding overnight on Sunday and morning with the latest death toll standing at 10.

But while residents in neighbouring towns and villages were hoping they had seen the worst there were increasing concerns in the fortified town of Carcassone, which attracts tens of thousands of tourists each year, as the river Aude continued to rise.

Between 160mm and 180mm of rain fell over the town in the early hours of Monday morning.

Images posted on Twitter on Monday showed part of the city's hospital under water.

Although hospital chiefs at the Centre Hospitalier de Carcassonne insisted the building would not be evacuated they did say services had been hit.

"Our information systems have been impacted including telephones. We kindly recommend people to limit calls to Carcassonne hospital and Centre 15 (on duty doctors), unless absolutely necessary," the hospital said.

The planned surgery schedule and consultations were cancelled at the hospital on Monday however the maternity ward is continuing to admit patients.

"All the hospital staff made a major effort to return to the facility in the shortest possible time, thus minimizing the impact on the care of patients already admitted," the hospital said, adding that a crisis unit was activated as early as 5 am on Monday and is still operational and following developments as closely as possible.

The hospital said a crisis centre was also set up to treat those suffering from shock.

Claire McGonigle posted an image on Twitter that showed one of the city's restaurant terraces washed away in the flood.

The local authorities in the city were also advising people in parts of the city to stay indoors and stay at high levels.

"The inhabitants of streets around the Paicherou quay and Boulevard Sabatier are encouraged to climb to higher floors," said the prefecture.

And the flooding was having a major impact on road traffic in the city with all bridges over the River Aude closed to pedestrians and heavy goods vehicles.

"Drivers must take extreme precaution," the prefecture said.

Elizabeth Dale who is in Carcassonne told The Local on Monday morning: "It's been raining again and police are stationed on bridges and only allowing emergency vehicles to cross.
 
"It does like the water levels are dropping but who knows what will happen in the next few hours. There are many people like ourselves who are stuck on the wrong side of the river."
 
Flash floods swamped a number of towns and villages Carcassonne, leaving a trail of overturned cars, damaged roads and collapsed homes.
 
An elderly nun was swept to her death as rising waters smashed through a nunnery in the village of Villardonnel to the north of Carcassonne.
 
Meanwhile, at least four people died overnight in the hard-hit village of Villegailhenc, local authorities said.
 
Both the French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe were headed to the area on Monday.

 

 

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