French Riviera death toll rises

  • 06/10/2015
An abandoned car is submerged in deep water near by an underpass after flooding in Mandelieu (Reuters)
An abandoned car is submerged in deep water near by an underpass after flooding in Mandelieu (Reuters)

Volunteers and firefighters began the gruelling task of cleaning up French Riviera towns strewn with mud and debris, as the death toll from floods which tore through the region rose to 20.

Citizens of Britain, Italy and Portugal were among those who died when a torrential weekend downpour trapped people in garages and retirement homes in Mediterranean resort towns beloved by jet-setting tourists.

Water gushed through the streets of Cannes, Nice and Antibes, leaving cars including Porsches and Ferraris scattered about, often upside down and hundreds of metres from where they were parked.

Another person was found dead on Monday in the worst-hit town of Mandelieu-la-Napoule, with eight now confirmed killed there after being trapped in garages when they tried to remove their cars, a local official said.

And in Cannes a body was found in an underground parking lot. Two people who had been listed as missing were found alive.

Mandelieu-la-Napoule mayor Henri Leroy on Sunday described the situation as "apocalyptic".

In London, the Foreign Office said a British national had died, while an Italian woman and Portuguese man were also among the dead, a local official said.

As night fell on Monday, officials said two German citizens were missing in Antibes.

In the town of Biot, about 40 kilometres from Monte Carlo where three people drowned in a retirement home, hundreds of clean-up workers clad in diving suits and carrying chainsaws removed trees and debris strewn around a river.

As the Mediterranean sunshine returned, volunteers grabbed mops to help victims of the damage clean out thick layers of mud from their homes and businesses.

"It is everywhere, it smells bad and it seeps into everything. It is making the furniture swell up," said one local woman, who did not give her name.

Some 9000 households in the region still had no electricity after record rainfall that saw 180 millimetres of water fall on Cannes alone - nearly two months' worth in three hours.