France floods: 1600 evacuated, German missing at campsite

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Several parts of central and southeast France are on flood alert after weeks of blazing temperatures erupted in storms on Thursday, turning several campsites into mudbaths.

A 70-year-old German man who was helping to supervise children at a summer camp at Saint-Julien-de-Peyrolas in Gard is feared to have been swept away by floodwaters, together with with his van.

Around 1,600 people, including many holidaymakers at campsites, have been evacuated in southern France after torrential rain caused flash flooding and transformed rivers and streams into raging torrents.

He was sheltering inside the caravan - said by police to have later been found "empty and in pieces" - after being trapped by muddy, fast-flowing water after the Ardeche river burst its banks. However, Mr. Dousset, the top aide of the Gard administration, said no one knew for certain yet that the man was in his van at the time.

Four German children had been hospitalised for hypothermia in Bagnols-Sur-Ceze, a town on the Ceze River, Mr Dousset added.

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Of the 750 people helped to safety by emergency crew in Saint-Julien-de-Peyrolas region of Gard, around 120 of them were children, mainly from Germany. The mayor of Bagnols, Jean-Yves Chapelet, told BFMTV that a large number of Dutch tourists were among the 350 campers evacuated.

Helicopters were used to spot campsites and occasionally to perform rescues.

Locals are being urged to keep a close eye on weather conditions.

UK Met Office meteorologist Marco Petagna said almost 3 inches of rain fell over the area in just 24 hours.

Heavy rain meant tents were destroyed, while about 17,000 homes were without power.

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