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Seven reported missing after severe weather hits southeast France

Seven reported missing after severe weather hits southeast France

Several people have been reported missing after violent storms hit a large area of southeastern France late on Saturday night, authorities said on Sunday.

Five people, including two children, are missing in the Gard region, having been swept away by floodwaters while trying to cross bridges by car on Saturday night.

A father and his two children aged 4 and 13 were swept away in Dions, north of Nîmes, at around 11:30pm on Saturday, and two other people in Goudargues, in the north of the department, at around 5am on Sunday, Frédéric Loiseau, Secretary General of the Prefecture, told a press briefing.

In Dions, occupants of a vehicle called for help after it started crossing the bridge. The mother of the family, a 40-year-old woman who was also in the car, was found by rescuers and taken to hospital.

A man has also been missing since Saturday evening in Saint-Martin-de-Valamas, in the Ardèche, the department's prefecture said on Sunday. A search and rescue operation is ongoing. According to authorities, the missing person is the manager of a hydroelectric power station.

Speaking on X, formerly Twitter, Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin thanked firefighters for their continued rescue efforts.

A seventh person was already reported missing on Saturday evening in Gagnières, in the north of the Gard department. The 62-year-old was swept away at around 7:45pm on Saturday when the car in which he was travelling drove over a submerged bridge bordering the Ardèche department, despite warnings from the authorities not to drive.

The other occupant of the car managed to get out of the vehicle and took refuge in a tree, before being treated by the fire brigade.

Orange alert - the second highest level of alerts - for flooding is still in effect on Sunday in the Ardèche, Aveyron, Gard, Lozère and Var regions, said Météo-France. In the south-west, Charente-Maritime and Gironde are under orange flood alert.

All seven departments should remain under orange alert until Monday.