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08.28 10 Aug 2018


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One person is missing and more than 1,600 people have been evacuated with the aid of helicopters after torrential rain caused flooding in southern France.

Five campsites in the Gard region were evacuated by hundreds of firefighters as the rainwater swelled rivers.

A total of 1,600 people, most of them campers, were helped in Gard and the nearby Ardeche and Drome regions, according to France's interior ministry.

More than 400 firefighters and police officers, many sent in from other areas, were involved in the operations.

The missing person is a 70-year-old German man who is feared to have been swept away by floodwaters while inside his caravan, police said.

The man was supervising a group of around 100 German children, from the city of Leverkusen, who were evacuated from a campsite in Saint-Julien-de-Peyrolas, 83 miles north east from Montpellier.

He was sheltering inside the caravan - said by police to have later been found "empty and in pieces" - after being trapped by muddy, fast-flowing water after the Ardeche river burst its banks.

Divers were reported to be taking part in the search for the man, although a top regional official said it was not known for certain whether the man was in his caravan at the time it was swept away.

Tourists evacuated

Officials said 119 children in Saint-Julien-de-Peyrolas were sent to an emergency shelter.

"No one has suitcases. We just have what we're wearing," Rita Mauersberger, a German who was among the campers taking shelter, told France Info radio.

Four German children suffering from hypothermia were taken to hospital in Bagnols-sur-Ceze, around 65 miles from Montpellier.

They were among 10 people treated for minor injuries.

The Bagnols mayor told BFM-TV many Dutch tourists were among the 350 campers evacuated there.

Helicopters were used to spot campsites and occasionally to perform rescues.

Several parts of central and southeast France are on flood alert after a blazing heatwave ended abruptly in storms on Thursday.

Locals are being urged to keep a close eye on weather conditions and warned flooding would take time to recede.

Numerous roads in the affected area remained cut off as night fell. Around 17,000 homes in the southwest and northeast were without power.


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