Europe lashed by downpours and floods

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Europe lashed by downpours and floods

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Parts of Europe have been hit by severe storms while other areas are bracing for further heavy downpours. Central Switzerland was hit hardest. Two people died after being swept away by floodwater and an elderly woman was killed when her house was flooded in the Berne region.

A fourth person is missing. Roads and rail lines were blocked for a time and some bridges damaged.

There were similar problems in northern France, which endured several hours of torrential rain.

Several communities were struck by flash floods.

Residents in one village awoke to find their streets coated in half a metre of mud.

The region remains under extreme weather alert.

Some 20,000 inhabitants were left without running water north of Paris after their water reserves were polluted by the storms.

Belgium and Germany are also expected to be affected by the heavy rains.