IN PICTURES: France pays tribute to ocean rescuers killed in storm

Thousands of people from all over France came to pay tribute to the three ocean rescuers who were killed in a storm off the coast of Les Sables-d'Olonne last week.

IN PICTURES: France pays tribute to ocean rescuers killed in storm
SNSM rescuers take part in the emotional farewell. Photo: Sebastian Solum-Gomes/AFP

SNSM Rescuers proceed with the memorial service for the three rescuers who lost their life. Photo:Sebastian Solum-Gomes/AFP

The three local men died after their lifeboat capsized while they were coming to the assistance of a fisherman off the coast of Sables-d'Olonne, starting point for the round-the-world Golden Globe yacht race. Four other rescuers managed to swim to safety.

The body of the fisherman, a retiree who was shrimping to boost his pension, has not been found.

Thousands gathered for the memorial service. Photo:Sebastian Solum-Gomes/AFP

President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday posthumously awarded the volunteers the Legion d'Honneur, France's highest civilian honour. The accident was the deadliest to hit the French ocean rescue service SNSM in over 30 years and plunged the sea-faring community into mourning.

Moments before the boat capsized. Photo: Sebastian Solum-Gomes/AFP

A huge crowd took part in a silent march on Monday to the beach where the wrecked rescue boat was brought ashore. Many carried a single red or white rose which they planted in the sand.

Red and White roses laid down on the sand to pay tribute to the fallen rescuers. Photo: Sebastian Solum-Gomes/AFP

A large group of SNSM volunteers, wearing trademark luminous orange jackets led the march and were applauded by residents for their service.

Sailors and fishermen were also out in force, with a flotilla of around 100 boats, backed by a naval vessel, firing flares and sounding their sirens. Around 15,000 took part in the ceremony, according to local authorities.

SNSM rescuers, fishermen and sailors sail their boats out in tribute. Photo:Sebastian Solum-Gomes/AFP

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


VIDEO: Two children in France caught by crowd after 10-metre jump from burning building

Two brothers, three and 10, have escaped unhurt after they were forced to jump out of their third-floor apartment into the arms of waiting neighbours.

VIDEO: Two children in France caught by crowd after 10-metre jump from burning building
The incident happened in the Villeneuve area of Grenoble. Illustration photo: AFP

Sofiane and his younger brother Soleiman were both discharged from hospital on Wednesday where they, along with 17 other residents of the building in the Villeneuve area of Grenoble, had been treated for smoke inhalation following a fire on Tuesday. 



Dramatic video captured by a passer-by shows the boys appearing at the window of the third-storey apartment.

With black smoke billowing and screams from the street  below, the older boy drops his little brother into the arms of passers-by before making the jump himself.

Several of their rescuers suffered injuries to their arms, wrists and hands, but the boys escaped unscathed. 

'I closed my eyes and jumped'

10-year-old Sofiane has been hailed a hero after having the presence of mind to drop his brother into the waiting arms of the crowd.

“I was in my room watching TV when I saw the smoke coming,” he told Le Parisien newspaper.

After attempting to take refuge in the kitchen, he brought his little brother to the window to breathe.

“People at the bottom of the building were telling me to throw him. I grabbed him by his shirt and let him go.

“I wasn't scared, even though it was high. I closed my eyes and jumped.”

Both brothers are now back in the care of their family. 

Proud father

Sofiane's father Ahmed is proud of his son's courage.

“He's a hero too. He acted with great composure in a difficult situation,” he told French media.

The children had been left home alone while their mother went out with her third child to buy bread after Ahmed had already left for work.

Both parents will be questioned by police. 

Grenoble mayor Éric Piolle hailed the rescue, which he said underscored the city’s “tradition of solidarity and mutual help”.

The cause of the blaze is still unknown.