Three killed as violent storm hits Corsica

Three killed as violent storm hits Corsica
The helicopter-carrier 'Tonnerre' of the French Navy sails out the port of Ajaccio, Corsica island, France, 22 March 2020. EPA-EFE/MICHEL LUCCIONI

PARIS, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Three people, including a teenage girl, died along Corsica's coast and two others were critically injuredon Thursday, as a violent and unexpected storm battered the Mediterranean island with hurricane-force winds.

Hail, heavy rain and winds measured as peaking at 224 km per hour (140 mph) swept across the French island, a popular tourist destination.

“There was no warning … I don’t feel scared just stupefaction. No one expected this,” said Yolhan Niveau, 24, a wildlife photographer from Brittany staying at a campsite near San-Nicolao, in the north-east.

He said the storm had torn through the site, uprooting trees and damaging mobile homes. It raged as, across France – which has been hit by heatwaves and severe drought – many areas saw more rain in a few hours than in recent months combined.

In southern Corsica, a 13-year-old girl died when a tree fell on another campsite and a 72-year-old woman was killed when her car was struck by a beach hut roof , authorities said.

The third victim, a 46-year old Frenchman, died when a tree fell on a campsite bungalow in the north, authorities said. A 23-year old Italian woman was injured at the same location and taken to hospital in critical condition.

Rescue operations were also under way offshore, authorities added.

Weather forecaster Meteo France said the island was hit by “violent thunderstorms with strong tornado-like gusts… causing significant damage.”

Meteo France had said on Wednesday that the exact location of storms was hard to predict. It had not given advance warning that there would be such a strong one on Corsica and issued an alert with “immediate effect” in the morning as strong winds were already hitting the island.

Meteo France subsequently lifted the major storm warning, indicating the worst had passed for the island, where 45,000 households were left without electricity.

On France’s mainland, grid operator Enedis said about 1,000 households were still without power after a storm hit the southern Loire and Ain departments.

On Wednesday evening in Marseille, streets were flooded and streams of water ran down steps in the port city, videos shared on social media showed.

Further north, drought has left the river Loire, famous for castles along its banks, so shallow that even flat-bottomed tourist barges can barely navigate it.

(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel, Myriam Rivet, Matthieu Prottard, Layli ForoudiWriting by Ingrid MelanderEditing by John Stonestreet)


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