Photo: Twitter fire brigade Hérault
A heavy thunderstorm has been raging in the south of France in recent days. The bad weather has now also made victims on the coasts of the departments of Hérault and Bouches-du-Rhône. The fire brigade had to be called out more than ten times on Wednesday for swimmers who got into trouble in the Mediterranean Sea. Nine people were killed, one is missing and two were seriously injured.
The southeast of France experienced heavy thunderstorms on Wednesday. The departments of Hérault, Ardèche and Drôme and Isère were assigned code orange for severe flooding due to rainfall. Those storms have also led to a very choppy Mediterranean Sea. All day long, bathers in distress had to be pulled out of the water.
Such was the case in the Hérault, where five people, aged between 64 and 73, died in Marseillan, Sérignan, Vias, La Grande-Motte and Agde. Rescue workers, using several helicopters, managed to rescue seven other people in the stormy sea and resuscitate them.
Two people also died in Bouches-du-Rhône, a 58-year-old man and a 71-year-old man in Ciotat and Cassis.
In Aude, one in their sixties and one in their eighties have died in Leucate.
In addition, one swimmer is still missing in Vias and two others were seriously injured, the newspaper La Depeche du Midi reports.
It is not yet known whether the victims were holidaymakers or people from the region.
The fire brigade called on everyone to stay away from the sea and eventually a number of beaches were cleared. “The sea is very turbulent due to a number of low pressure areas and the storm,” the fire service said. “But what we don’t see are the strong underwater currents that pull people to the bottom of the sea. People feel the warm water, think it will be fun, but they are taken by surprise and exhausted. That is what caused the drowning.”
After the end of the summer season, the beaches are no longer constantly monitored by lifeguards. Swimming was prohibited in some places due to weather conditions.
Strong currents are also expected in the sea on Thursday and swimming is not recommended.