Rescuers search for missing from floods in southern France

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Rescuers in southern France on Friday cleared animal carcasses and searched for 13 people still missing, three days after flash floods killed 25 people.

Emergency teams cleared hundreds of carcasses of sheep and horses that drowned in the floodwaters, working quickly to avoid water contamination, a state official said.

"There is an intense mobilisation in these operations. We are tackling the carcasses lying in water as a priority," said Simon Babre, a deputy to the state prefect.

President Nicolas Sarkozy announced he will travel to the devastated Var region, off the Mediterranean coast, on Monday for a first-hand look at the disaster.

Authorities in the Var, a popular holiday region, put the death toll at 25 on Thursday after the floodwaters engulfed streets in torrents of mud and drove people onto the roofs of their homes.

The worst-hit was Draguignan, a town of 40,000 people not far from the popular Riviera resort of Saint-Tropez.

A total of 12 people died in that town including a two-year-old child and several elderly residents, Draguiguan officials said.

Officials warned other bodies might be found as the search continued with rescuers digging through mud-filled cars and wreckage as helicopters circled overhead.

A 21-year-old woman was listed as missing as was a man whose house was on the banks of a river. About 2,000 households remained without electricity.

Residents in Draguignan began on Friday to sift through their belongings, pulling mattresses, furniture and refrigerators from their gutted homes as police patrols were stepped up to prevent looting.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon called a meeting of key ministers to take stock of the scale of the disaster and consider appeals for state aid.

About 2,000 soldiers, firefighters and police were brought in to lead the rescue operation.

© 2010 AFP

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