Firefighters among eight people still missing after Storm Alex hit southern France

Two firefighters whose vehicle was swept away by flood waters are among eight people still missing after Storm Alex wreaked havoc on the south coast of France.

Firefighters among eight people still missing after Storm Alex hit southern France
Torrential rains triggered mudslides in Breil-sur-Roya, south east France. All photos: AFP

Two people have now been confirmed dead and eight are still missing after the storm which struck south east France and northern Italy over the weekend, with torrential rain triggering flash flooding and mudslides.

In Breil-sur-Roya, a French village close to the Italian border, houses were buried in mud and turned-over cars stuck in the riverbed.

Two people have now been confirmed dead – a French shepherd whose body was found in the Roya river by Italian rescuers and a body found in Saint-Martin-Vésubie.


Two firefighters are among the missing, a captain and a young volunteer whose vehicle was 'swallowed up by the torrents of water' as they drove in convey to a rescue.

Their colleagues have described being unable to help them as their vehicle disappeared.

“Everyone was driving slowly. They were being followed by equipment and teams specialising in water rescue,” Fabrice Gentili, the commander of the Alpes-Maritime rescue teams, told French media.

“The conditions were such that it was impossible for them to get into the water to help, they couldn't even see the car, which suddenly disappeared.

“As time elapses, we know we are unlikely to find people safe and well, and we search for everyone with the same priority.”

A group of 11 hikers who had been numbered among the missing have since made contact, but eight people remain unaccounted for.

Around 1,000 firefighters and rescue workers remain in the area and crew say almost all of the villages cut off by landslides and floodwater have now been accessed.


The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, says he hopes that everywhere will be accessible by road by the end of the week as a major operation begins to inspect and repair vital infrastructure.

In the Alpes-Maritime département 24 primary schools, five secondary schools and one high school remain closed until further notice. 

President Emmanuel Macron would travel to the region to offer moral support, his government tweeted on Monday.




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South west France on red alert for flooding

Five areas in south west France have been placed on a red weather alert for flooding as storms lash the region.

South west France on red alert for flooding
Storms are moving in to south west France over the Pyrenees. Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP

Météo France has placed five départements in south west France – Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Landes, Hautes-Pyrénées, Haute-Garonne and Ariège – on a red weather alert for heavy rains and flooding.

Extremely heavy rainstorms have hit the area, with a band of storm clouds travelling along the Pyrenees, bringing the risk of avalanches in the mountains and flooding in lowland areas.

The neighbouring département of Pyrénées-Orientale is on orange alert, along with the principality of Andorra. In the north, Aisne is also on orange alert for heavy rain.

Heavy rain is expected to continue throughout Monday, gradually easing off towards the evening, although the flood alerts remain in place until Tuesday.