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Floods Ravage French Riviera, at least 17 Dead

  • VOA News

Debris and a damaged car are pictured in the campsite of Biot, near Cannes, southeastern France, Oct. 4, 2015.

Debris and a damaged car are pictured in the campsite of Biot, near Cannes, southeastern France, Oct. 4, 2015.

Torrential rains pounded the French Riviera overnight Saturday, dumping nearly 18 centimeters of rain in three hours on the fabled Mediterranean coastline and turning it into a sea of mud. Authorities say at least 17 people were killed.

Residents said victims were found dead in homes, campsites and cars submerged in a tunnel in a town between Cannes and Antibes, where several others were found dead in a retirement home.

Hundreds of Italian pilgrims -- many of them elderly and returning from the Roman Catholic shrine at Lourdes -- were stranded on trains in the region, while hundreds of tourists were holed up at shut down regional airports.

French President Francois Hollande visited the region Sunday, expressing official condolences to families and urging residents to remain cautious and avoid roadways -- many of them damaged and blocked by trees, mud and debris.

A spokesman for the French rail company SNCF told the French news agency that railway infrastructure, including track, crossings and power lines, were seriously damaged near Cannes, before the storm moved eastward toward the Italian coast.

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