Four dead, dozens missing as France launches rescue mission after floods

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By Euronews  with AFP
Firefighters evacuate people from a house amidst flooding in the town of Ornavasso
Firefighters evacuate people from a house amidst flooding in the town of Ornavasso   -  Copyright  Firefighter Vigili del Fuoco via AP

At least four people have been killed in flooding in a mountainous border region of France and Italy, with rescue teams searching for others who are missing.

French authorities deployed around 1,000 firefighters, four military helicopters and troops to help with the search for at least eight missing people, following storms that battered southeastern France before moving into northern Italy.

Italy's Piedmont region saw levels of rain not seen since 1958, while areas of France suffered power outages as winds brought down power lines.

Emergency workers in Italy recovered two corpses Sunday in northern Liguria that they feared may have been washed away as a result of the storms that killed two other people on Saturday.

Floods washed away houses and destroyed roads and bridges surrounding the city of Nice on the French Riviera after almost a year's average rainfall fell in less than 12 hours.

Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi said over 100 homes were destroyed or severely damaged.

Firefighter Vigili del Fuoco via AP)
A firefighters' helicopter flies over flooding in the town of OrnavassoFirefighter Vigili del Fuoco via AP)

The missing include two French firefighters whose vehicle was carried away by a torrent when a road collapsed south of the village of Saint-Martin-Vesubie. Authorities fear more victims as many families couldn’t reach out to relatives due to mobile services being down.

On Saturday an Italian rescue team used a helicopter to rescue the stranded near the French town of Vievola, which included a woman and her two grandchildren.

A further eight people were rescued after they climbed from the mountain pass to a tunnel which was reached using a bulldozer.

Italian firefighters also rescued 25 people trapped on the French side of a high mountain pass due to the flooding.

About 10,500 homes were left without electricity on Sunday, French energy company Enedis said.

Wolf park destroyed

The Alpha Wolf Park, in Saint-Martin-Vésubie in the Alpes-Maritimes, was destroyed by the flooding on Friday according to the French Office for Biodiversity.

At least one wolf was confirmed to have died, but the fate of the remaining wolves, which number around 10, is currently unknown. There are three different types of wolves missing: Canadian wolves, white wolves from Alaska and grey wolves from Central Europe.

"We know from witnesses that the park is destroyed and that there is at least one dead wolf," Eric Hansen, regional director of the French Office for Biodiversity, told AFP.

"When it is possible, OFB agents will be sent to assess the situation," he added, saying if the wolves have left the park's enclosure, they will be captured.