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Floods death toll rises to 12 in France and Italy, dozens still missing

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A man stands in the middle of a flooded street in Breil-sur-Roya, near the border with Italy, Saturday Oct. 3, 2020.
A man stands in the middle of a flooded street in Breil-sur-Roya, near the border with Italy, Saturday Oct. 3, 2020.   -   Copyright  Sécurité Civile-UIISC via AP
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The number of people killed in severe flooding in France and Italy rose to twelve on Monday with at least 20 people still missing.

A woman's body was recovered in the Mediterranean Sea by Italian rescuers on Monday. It comes after five men were found dead on Sunday in the border province of Imperia and two others, including a firefighter, were discovered lifeless on Saturday in the mountainous Aosta Valley.

Three bodies were meanwhile found in south-eastern France on Monday. A day earlier, rescuers had found the body of a man whose car had been washed away by a torrent in Saint-Martin-Vesubie, in the Alpes-Maritime département. Several houses and a bridge in the village, one of the hardest-hit, have been washed away.

French authorities are trying to locate 20 people, including eight in Alpes-Maritimes who witnesses described as possibly being carried away by floodwaters. They include two firefighters whose vehicle fell into the water as the road collapsed.

Some 1,000 firefighters are currently mobilised in the south-east of France to provide assistance to affected residents. The military has also been deployed, as have six helicopters ferrying drinking water and food to villages whose land access has been cut off.

Forty generators have also been dispatched and 400 people have been evacuated.

Across the border, the governors of both Liguria and Piedmont have asked the Italian government for emergency aid.

Floods in Italy have often turned into emergencies in recent years due to the lack of routine maintenance in clearing rivers and waterways due to budget cuts.

Italy’s finance minister, Roberto Gualtieri, told RAI state television that recovery funds for economic damage from the pandemic should also go to the environment, adding ‘’there will be additional investments.’’