A mini tornado has swept through a small town in northern France, killing three people, injuring nine and destroying about 40 houses within minutes. A woman in her 70s and a couple died when their homes in Hautmont collapsed. A 76-year-old man whose house was destroyed in the storm later committed suicide.
One resident said: “I took my wife and baby and we sheltered in the cellar. At 10.20pm we went upstairs and there was nothing, it had all gone, it had all collapsed. We only moved in six months ago – our baby’s three months old. We’ve nothing left. I was just going to start work. I’ve got nothing left.” Another added: “Forty five years of my life have gone. I haven’t got anything left. All I have is what I’m wearing and that’s all. Everything was there.”
Around 200 police officers were searching through the wreckage to make sure no one else was trapped in the debris. Three people were also injured in the neighbouring village of Boussieres-sur-Sambre, two of them seriously. And on the other side of the border, in Belgium, the storm caused severe flooding.