MARSEILLE, France, Dec 5 (AFP) – More than 27,000 people were evacuated during flooding in southern France this week that claimed at least six lives and prompted offers of aid from other EU countries, officials in Marseille said Friday.
The hardest hit regions were those of the Gard, around the city of Nimes, and the Herault, around Montpellier.
Marseille and its surrounding area was declared a disaster zone on Wednesday. Officials said 3,400 homes were still without electricity Friday.
Crowds queued in the Roman amphitheatre in the Nimes for hand-outs of bottled water after authorities warned the 250,000-strong population of the area that flooding may have contaminated tap water. Shops and supermarkets were rushed by inhabitants buying stocks of bottled drinking supplies.
An official at the crisis coordination centre near Marseille, Colonel Axel Bousses, told AFP that 851 German workers with 250 specialised pumping vehicles would from Saturday help to drain water that had inundated land around Arles, between Marseille and Montpellier.
That operation, which would take more than a week, would also involve teams from Belgium and Italy, he said.
Norway on Friday said it had offered to contribute 15 extra pumps to the effort.
Although heavy rains that lashed the south and east of France since Monday have receded and swollen rivers have started to subside, the flooding left behind has caused much hardship.
Most of those killed were drowned in and near Marseille, and emergency shelters have been set up to take in hundreds of people unable to return to their submerged homes.
High-risk prisoners at a heavily guarded prison in Arles was being evacuated because of flooding that reached up to 1.8 metres (six feet) in places, according to authorities.
© AFP with added reporting by Expatica France News
Subject: French news