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Schools closed, trains halted and 7 hurt as northern France floods

The Local France/AFP
The Local France/AFP - [email protected]
Schools closed, trains halted and 7 hurt as northern France floods
Photo: AFP

Schools have been closed, residents evacuated, trains halted and at least seven people have been injured after major flooding in northern France.

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The flooding has hit dozens of towns in northern France, leaving roads sometimes only passable in boats and dozens
of schools closed, authorities said on Tuesday.

A red alert for flooding - indicating possible danger to life - is in place for the northern département of Pas-de-Calais (the Channel port of Calais and the surrounding area) amid concerns that the River Aa will burst its banks.

Several smaller rivers have flooded and residents in communes including Saint-Étienne-au-Mont have been evacuated. 

 

The préfecture has ordered the closure of all schools in 36 communes which are close to the river, while the local TER train services between Boulogne-sur-Mer and Étaples will not run until Thursday at the earliest. 

Local authorities have also advised all residents in the affected communes to stay at home, not use their cars and evacuate if ordered to do so by emergency services.

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Interior minister Gérald Darmanin said that 1,500 emergency workers were mobilised in the area and had been dealing with at least 600 call-outs, adding that seven people had been injured during the flooding and rescue operations. 

Vigicrues, the official river flooding watchdog, described Tuesday's floods as "exceptional".

In the town of Blendecques, which was already hit by a flood last year, locals assessed the damage.

"Everything has to be repaired again," lamented Ludovic Provence, 43. "We can't do anything against the water."

Météo France is predicting between 35mm and 50mm of rain in Pas-de-Calais, which comes days after the area was battered by Storm Ciaran.

Meanwhile parts of the south-west are on orange alert for flooding - the alerts cover the départements of Deux-Sèvres, Charente, Charente-Maritime, Gironde and Dordogne.

 

Heavy rain is also predicted in the south west of the country, much of which was hit by Storm Domingos over the weekend, with a risk that some rivers could flood.

The flood warnings are in place until Wednesday evening. 

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