France floods: 1,600 tourists evacuated and one missing at campsites

A deluge of heavy rain left summer campsites in Gard, Ardeche and Drome completely submerged by flood water, leaving hundreds of tourists scrambling to safety.

Tents have been destroyed and roads overwhelmed with water after almost three inches of rain fell in under 24 hours, causing rivers to overflow at a rapid rate.

A 70-year-old German man who was helping supervise children at one of the camps went missing on Thursday, thought to have been swept by the strong currents of flood water.

Hundreds of rescue workers, including firefighters, police and helicopters, have been deployed to the region to evacuate imperiled campers, many of whom are children.

Of the 750 people helped to safety by emergency crew in Saint-Julien-de-Peyrolas region of Gard, around 120 of them were children, mainly from Germany.


france floodingAFP


BIBLICAL: More than 1,600 tourists have been evacuated from campsites in southern France

Ten people, including four German children, have been taken to hospital with hypothermia and minor injuries, according to regional police spokesman Jérôme Tallaron.

The dramatic flooding comes after a record-breaking spell of hot weather in Europe, where temperatures reached highs of 47C in some countries.

The unusually hot weather has hardened the ground, meaning it cannot absorb rain and therefore increases the chances of flash flooding.


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RESCUE MISSION: Hundreds of emergency crew have been drafted in to help tourists to safety


“The level and speed of the river today was extraordinary”


Tourist Rachel Buchanan

The regions affected by the flooding in southern France are popular with British tourists during the summer. 

Rachel Buchanan, from Oxford, was left with a “frightening” drive through floodwaters that had hit a site near a river in the neighbouring Ardeche region.

“The level and speed of the river today was extraordinary – we woke up in about a foot of water,” she told the BBC.

“Driving in our camper van was very frightening as the road by the river was completely under water and waterfalls had appeared from nowhere crashing down the gorge.”


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EVACUATION: 750 people were rescued from a campsite in Saint-Julien-de-Peyrolas

The French weather service has issued orange and yellow alerts for parts of south-east France that will remain in place until 4pm on Friday.

UK Met Office meteorologist Marco Petagna said nearly three inches of rain fell over the area in 24 hours.

“It’s located in the area of hot weather that has been affecting much of Europe just recently, although there is a cold front moving south,” he said.


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FLASH FLOODING: Around three inches of rain fell in under 24 hours

“Where you have got cold air trying to come in, at the boundary the hot air rises quite quickly and creates these rain clouds.

“There are still storms around, although they are starting to ease a little bit.”

He said parts parts of the Mediterranean could still see wet weather, with the Balearic islands and Sardinia at risk of heavy rain.

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