Storm Monica: seven people missing in Gard and Ardèche, ten departments still on orange alert

After a night of violent weather, between Saturday March 9 and Sunday March 10, seven people went missing in Gard and Ardèche.

Storm Monica: seven people missing in Gard and Ardèche, ten departments still on orange alert

After a night of violent weather, between Saturday March 9 and Sunday March 10, seven people went missing in Gard and Ardèche. The vehicles were found but not their occupants, indicated the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin.

Ten departments are still on orange alert, Sunday March 10, for “floods”, “avalanches” or even “submersion waves”. Following a night of intense bad weather in the South-East of the country, seven people are missing. Six of them are currently being sought in Gard, and one victim is being sought in Ardèche. “The people's vehicles have been found, but not the people as I speak to you,” indicated the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, from the Operational Center for Interministerial Crisis Management at Place Beauvau. Since Saturday evening, the two departments have been placed on orange flood alert by Météo France. “Very heavy rain affected these departments last night, leading to rising water levels and unfortunately missing people,” said the Minister of the Interior.

Nearly 250 firefighters and 4 gendarmerie helicopters were mobilized overnight from Saturday to Sunday. On site, we are waiting for reinforcements "coming from Bouches-du-Rhône, Vaucluse and Hérault, and a helicopter coming from Lyon", explained the secretary general of the Gard prefecture who "renews in a strong way messages of caution to the entire population of Gard".

On Saturday evening, around 11:30 p.m., a couple and their two children aged 4 and 13 were swept away by water in their car while they were on a bridge in Dions. The mother was rescued by firefighters and a helicopter flew over the area to try to find the victims.

Since Saturday evening, around 8 p.m., a 62-year-old man has also been missing. He was in his vehicle when it was swept away by water on a submersible bridge in Gagnières. The man who was with him in his car managed to escape alone, before help arrived. Around 5 a.m., two women aged 47 and 50 contacted emergency services when they found themselves in difficulty in Goudargues, on a submersible bridge. They are still being sought on Sunday.

Thousands of homes were deprived of electricity during the night of Saturday March 9 to Sunday March 10, in Drôme and Ardèche. Violent gusts of wind blew across the departments, peaking at 172 km/h on Mont Mézenc. In the Var and the Alpes-Maritimes, intense rainfall occurred overnight. It fell up to 160 millimeters in Méounes, in the west of the department, according to the prefecture. Firefighters announced an expected flood peak early in the morning. In Fréjus, 60 people had to be evacuated as a preventive measure, 30 in Hyères. In Mandelieu-la-Napoule (Alpes-Maritimes), "the campsites were evacuated as were a tourist residence and the inhabitants of the ground floor of a neighborhood", explained the mayor, Sébastien Leroy, on franceinfo, Sunday morning. “We have a slight injury, one of the agents who was responding to a falling tree,” he added.

Aveyron, Lozère, Ardèche, Gard, Bouches-du-Rhône, Var, Yonne, Charente-Maritime, Gironde, Landes and Pyrénées-Atlantiques have been placed on orange flood vigilance for the day of Sunday. The Landes and the Pyrénées-Atlantiques are on orange wave-submersion alert. In the Alpes-Maritimes, the orange rain-flood alert has been lifted but the department is now on avalanche alert. Depression Monica is moving towards the Bay of Biscay and "generates a rapid and disturbed flow from the west over the south of the Bay of Biscay", indicates Météo France in its latest bulletin. “These strong winds having blown offshore generated a strong westerly swell which spread to the Atlantic coast on Sunday and Monday, adds the forecasting institute. The waves are particularly strong on the south of the Aquitaine coast for the high seas on Sunday afternoon."

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