Violent Storms Kill 40 in France
At least 40 people were reported dead on Sunday, as storm winds and exceptionally high tides drove water deep inland in several areas of southwestern France. Some 500 people are homeless, while more than a million are deprived of electricity.
The winds struck around the Vendee region, tearing through quiet fishing villages and drowning many victims, who slept at night. Several thousand rescue workers spent much of the day going from house to house, searching for survivors.
“Last night, I escaped from my house by swimming. I got out through my bathroom window. I sought refuge on concrete pillars — we were doing some building — and I spent the night on the pillars with my husband on our front, so as to have the least impact possible from the wind. And then we waited for the rescue services that came this morning.”
Weather experts say the catastrophe is the worst of its kind in three decades.
French radio reports that survivors were taken to local sports halls for shelter. They are unlikely to be able to return to their homes for several days.
It was only as the day drew to its close that the full picture of the devastation became clear. In some port villages in southwestern France, fishing boats and pleasure vessels were tossed up from the water onto the quayside. Homes next to the shoreline were completely submerged.
The storms swept across much of France, losing force as they spread inland. Quiet weather is expected in coming days.