Flash flooding around the French Riviera has killed at least 16 people, including some trapped in cars, a campsite and a retirement home.

Torrents of muddy water also inundated buildings, roads and railway tracks, disrupting car and train traffic along the Mediterranean coast.

Helicopters patrolled the area and 27,000 homes were without electricity yesterday after the Brague River overflowed its banks and fierce thunderstorms poured more than 6.7 inches of rain on the Cannes region in two hours, the equivalent of two months of rainfall for the region.

President François Hollande said the overall death toll was 16, with three people still missing. Government officials had given conflicting reports about casualty figures earlier in the day.

“It’s not over,” Hollande said, visiting the flood-stricken retirement home in the town of Biot and meeting with emergency workers.

He expressed condolences to families of victims and urged residents to remain cautious, especially on the region’s roads, many of which remained impassable.

He promised aid for residents hit by the flooding and lamented serious damage to local stores and other businesses.

People were found dead in the towns of Cannes, Biot, Golfe-Juan and Mandelieu-la-Napoule in the south-east, the president’s office said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said the dead included victims who had been trapped in a parking lot and others at a campsite and a retirement home. The exact circumstances of the deaths were unclear.

Several trains were stopped because of flooded tracks and traffic remained stopped along the Mediterranean coast between Nice and Toulon, according to the SNCF rail authority. Several roads in the region were closed, including those reaching Cannes.

Winds and rain whipped palm trees along the famed Croisette seaside promenade in Cannes in images shown on BFM television.

In nearby Antibes, cars were overturned and roads were slick with mud. The flooding also disrupted a French league soccer match in Nice, forcing the stadium to shut down in the middle of play. Some criticised authorities for not doing more to prevent flood damage in the region. Hundreds of emergency workers were involved in rescue efforts yesterday, helped by clear skies.

Pope Francis offered his prayers for the victims during his weekly Sunday blessing from St Peter’s Square.

The ANSA news agency said that several trains that were halted by the floods were carrying hundreds of Italian pilgrims to or from the shrine at Lourdes. The Italian group Unitalsi, which transports the sick to the shrine, said all the pilgrims on board were fine.


Lifestyle

Spring has sprung and a new Munster festival promises to celebrate its arrival with gusto, says Eve Kelliher.Spring has sprung: Munster festival promises to celebrate with gusto

The spotlight will fall on two Munster architects in a new showcase this year.Munster architects poised to build on their strengths

Prepare to fall for leather, whatever the weather, says Annmarie O'Connor.Trend of the week: It's always leather weather

The starting point for Michael West’s new play, in this joint production by Corn Exchange and the Abbey, is an alternative, though highly familiar, 1970s Ireland. You know, elections every few weeks, bad suits, wide ties, and a seedy nexus of politics and property development.Theatre Review: The Fall of the Second Republic at Abbey Theatre, Dublin

More From The Irish Examiner