France – Death Toll Mounts in Riviera Floods as Natural Disaster Declared

Heavy storms, torrential rain and floods in the popular tourist area of Cote d’Azur in the south-east of France have left at least 16 people dead with 5 or more people still missing.

The torrential rain began to fall in the Alpes-Maritimes administrative department during the evening of Saturday 03 October 2015. The rain forced the River Brague to burst its banks. By late Saturday and early Sunday, major flooding had been reported in several tourist towns along the French Riviera, including Nice, Cannes and Antibes. The flooding caused fatalities in Cannes, Biot and Mandelieu-la-Napoule.

The President of the Alpes-Maritimes department, Eric Ciotti, said via social media:

“We have lived through an apocalyptic situation that we have never experience before.”

President Francois Hollande visited the affected areas on Sunday 04 October 2015 and said the government would declare a natural disaster. He also said the government will offer aid to help with recovery.

Tens of thousands of homes have been left without electricity. Flooding has caused widespread disruption to rail transport, and flights to Nice airport had to be diverted.

Rainfall

French interior ministry said in three hours nearly 180 mm of rain fell in Cannes and close to 160 mm in Mandelieu-la-Napoule.

The city of Nice saw 111.7 mm of rain fall in 24 hours between 03 and 04 October. The BBC reports that Nice is estimated to have received 10% of its average yearly rainfall in the last two days.

Weather Warnings

The severe weather has since calmed in the south. Some yellow (mid-level) weather warnings are in place for north western areas of the country. No further warnings have been issued by French authorities for weather or river levels in the Cote d’Azur area.