Much of France has been experiencing storms and flash-flooding this week as temperatures cool after the latest heatwave episode, but the must violent yet was the storm that struck the Mediterranean island of Corsica on Thursday.
Winds of 224km/h were recorded in the south of the island and at least five people have died – including a 13-year-old girl who was staying on one of the island’s campsites, a 46-year-old man whose bungalow was smashed by a falling tree and a 72-year-old woman who died when debris fell onto her vehicle.
Maritime authorities later said a fisherman had died near Girolata, and a female kayaker near Erbalunga, north of Bastia, while the Interior Ministry later said that a sixth person had also died, without providing details.
Twelve other people were treated for weather-related injuries, with two people listed as being in a serious condition.
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“I was woken around 7:30 am by a very huge storm” that knocked out both electricity and mobile phone networks, Benjamin Roux, a 26-year-old tourist, told AFP.
He had been planning to go scuba diving, but instead helped the passengers of a boat who were sleeping aboard when it was suddenly thrown onto the shore by the choppy waves.
“They managed to get out without injuries, but they’re just devastated,” he told AFP.
Maritime authorities reported 60 to 70 sea rescue operations, mainly along the western coast that bore the brunt of the storm.
The storms have now moved off, according to Météo France which has lifted its orange weather warning for the island, but 45,000 homes remain without power.
Corsica, known as L’île de beauté, is one of France’s most popular holiday destinations and in August hotels, campsites and villas are generally full of tourists – both French and foreign.