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France declares 'natural disaster' in flood-hit towns

30th September 2014, Comments 0 comments

France on Tuesday declared a state of natural disaster in about 60 southern towns hit by torrential downpours, which also left the Mediterranean city of Montpellier under water.

Flood waters streamed down roads and highways, engulfing cars as the Lez river burst its banks in the seaside capital of the Languedoc-Roussillon region.

More than 4,000 people across the rain-soaked region spent the night in emergency centres, schools, stuck in train stations or the airport, local government said in a statement.

According to the municipality, emergency workers were called out more than 1,200 times, backed by three helicopters.

"We will put in place natural disaster measures for about 60 towns," Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told local media, adding he would head to the flood-hit region later Tuesday.

Rains were expected to ease Tuesday and meteorologists downgraded the maximum red alert to orange.

No deaths have been reported from the latest round of storms to lash the Herault region, where four people died when a flash flood swept through their campsite 10 days ago.

© 2014 AFP

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