France – Seven People Missing After Severe Floods in Gard, Ardèche and Var

Rescuers in France are searching for at least seven people reported missing following severe flooding in the south of the country.

Search and rescue operations following reports of missing people in the Gard Department, France, 10 March 2024. Teams of firefighters from other departments, including those from Hérault shown here, were deployed to the area. Photo: Pompiers 34 Hérault

Storm Monica swept across the country from 08 March 2024 bringing extremely heavy rain. Some areas in the south recorded more than 300 mm of rain in 48 hours. Since 09 March, the rain has triggered severe flooding in the departments of Gard, Ardèche and Var.

In the Gard department, the local government reported six people were missing after being swept away by floods in 3 separate incidents between the evening of 09 March and the early morning of 10 March.

One person was missing after a vehicle was swept from a bridge in Gagnières. A passenger of the vehicle managed to escape and was later rescued by firefighters. The car was later located but as of early 10 March was still inaccessible.

In the municipality of Dions, a vehicle carrying a family of 2 parents and 2 children aged 4 and 13 was swept away by flood waters of the river Gardon. The mother was found by firefighters and transported to the university hospital for medical care. The search for the vehicle and the 3 occupants is still ongoing.

Firefighters are also searching for a vehicle and 2 passengers that were swept away by floods in the municipality of Goudargues. The search for the vehicle and its occupants is still ongoing.

As many as 250 firefighters have been mobilized, including water rescuers, drones and dog teams, the departmental government said. Helicopters provided by Civil Security have also been deployed. In total firefighters in the Gard department carried out 176 interventions in the space of a few hours from the evening of 09 to the early morning of 10 March.

In the neighbouring department of Ardèche, one person, said to be the manager of hydroelectric power station, was reported missing on 09 March in the village of Saint Martin de Valamas.

In the Var Department, firefighters were called on to rescue around 17 motorists trapped in flood waters. Flooding threated homes in the municipalities of Fréjus, Grimaud and Hyères. A total of around 90 people were evacuated preventively.

In a statement of 10 March, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said:

“Our compatriots in Gard and Ardèche are facing very severe flooding and bad weather. We currently have at least 7 people missing, including two children. I share the pain and concerns of their loved ones. The Nation stands united with them. Our emergency forces, whom I sincerely thank, are on deck and mobilized. I am following developments closely.”

Gérald Darmanin, Minister of the Interior of France, said firefighters have carried out 35 rescue operations in affected areas since 09 March. Julien Marion, Director General of Civil Security and Crisis Management in France, said over 400 firefighters and 4 helicopters have been deployed to carry out search and rescue operations and assist flood victims.