France floods: 1,600 evacuated, German missing at campsite

(BBC) – Heavy floods have forced the evacuation of 1,600 people – most of them campers – in southern France, officials say.

They say a 70-year-old German man who was helping to supervise children at one of the summer camps is missing.

The worst-hit areas are Gard, Ardeche and Drome. More than 400 firefighters and police – as well as four helicopters – have been deployed.

The storms which caused the floods come after a period of unusually hot weather in southern France and much of Europe.

According to UK Met Office meteorologist Marco Petagna , almost 3in (8cm) of rain fell in a 24-hour period.

In a statement (in French), the French interior ministry said six departments had been placed on a flood alert, while about 17,000 homes were without power in the south-west and north-east.

In one summer camp in Saint-Julien-de-Peyrolas, in the Gard region, 119 children were evacuated. One camper told French network BFMTV they could hear the children’s cries “in the branches”, but were unable to reach them.

The missing German was supervising the children at the camp.

Trapped by a fast-flowing torrent, he had sought shelter inside his caravan – but the vehicle was swept away, AFP news agency reports. It was later found “empty and in pieces”, according to police.

Divers were called in as the search operation continued.

Regional police spokesman Jérôme Tallaron said 10 people had been taken to hospital with hypothermia and minor injuries, according to the news agency.