Weekend floods (9-10 July) at Auch, in southwest France have resulted in 19 deaths; 11 people missing, and an estimated damage worth millions of france.
Weekend floods (9-10 July) at Auch, in southwest France have resulted in 19 deaths; 11 people missing, and an estimated damage worth millions of france. Meteorologists report that more storms may be expected. Eighty members of the country's Campagnie Republican de Securite (CRS) have been called out to prevent further looting. One looter has already been sentenced to three years in jail.
SYNOPSIS: After two days of torrential rain, the city of Auch, in southwest France is a scene of disaster and ruin.
A steel Bailey bridge spanning one of the city's rivers, the Gers, collapsed in the floods which were said to have been the worst this century.
A oil tanker was reduced to a tangle of scrap iron when the bridge collapsed.
Vehicles were swept away when the river burst its banks rising almost 10 feet (three metres) in half an hours. Rains destroyed 90 per cent of the region's cereal and tobacco crops and livestock and communications were destroyed when roads were flooded, and telephones line torn from their poles. The city was submerged in the deluge. Two bridges were swept away by strong winds. At Mirambeau two soldiers died when their vehicle was hurled against a lorry.
Relief operations are being called out by the city's residents, police, ambulance and firemen. Interior Minister, christian Bonnet is coordinating the programme under instructions from French President, Valery Giscard d'Estaing.
Prime Minister, Raymond Barre announced that this government had allocated one million frances for rehabilitation operations. A spokesman from one of the country's left-wing trade unions said the sum was insufficient to carry out the necessary work. Rescue workers had to wait until flood levels subsided before starting their clean-up campaign. Local authorities have voiced concern over the imminent shortage of fresh water in the area. A pumping station was destroyed during the rains.
Mineral water is being distributed to the citizens of auch, along with medical supplies.