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French Riviera declared 'disaster zone' after deadly flash floods

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By Euronews  with Reuters
French Riviera declared 'disaster zone' after deadly flash floods

A major stretch of the French Riviera has been declared a natural disaster zone after torential rain caused catastrophic flooding. Towns such as Cannes, Antibes and Nice have all be affected.

"I thought I was going to die...."

At least 17 people have been confirmed dead and four others are still missing.

Residents were taken by surprise by the exceptionally violent downpour.

“In ten minutes water rose up to here (showing his legs), in ten minutes, and with the doors closed. It swirled around, it was a terrifying,” said one man.

Those staying in mobile homes had been particularly at risk when the River Brague broke its banks near Antibes and the force of water swept everything away in its path.

One British tourist told of his narrow escape: “I thought that I was going to die. Because when this was going I thought should I let myself go and travel with the water .. down there. . There was a girl behind me.. she wanted to get her car…she disappeared.”

Many of the victims had been caught in their cars as the flood waters rose.

Visiting the area French President Francois Hollande talked to rescue teams and residents, promising to speed up relief payments to help cover the damage.

On Saturday night the city of Cannes – the normally glamorous venue for the celebrated film festival – registered 17cm of rain in just two hours.

Rail, road and air traffic were all suspended until late Sunday night and 27,000 homes were without electricity.