France, Italy battered by heavy floods brought by Storm Alex; at least 8 missing, 2 dead


French authorities deployed about 1,000 firefighters, four military helicopters, and troops Sunday to help search for at least eight people still missing in a mountainous southeastern region after devastating floods. Storm Alex has killed at least two people in neighboring Italy.

Floodwaters washed away houses and destroyed roads and bridges surrounding the city of Nice on the French Riviera after almost a year’s average of rainfall fell in fewer than 12 hours. Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi said more than 100 homes were destroyed or severely damaged.

Rescuers on Sunday were also providing emergency assistance, including food and water, to residents living in isolated villages.

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Those missing in France include two firefighters whose vehicle was carried away by a torrent when a road collapsed south of the village of Saint-Martin-Vesubie. Authorities fear more victims as many families couldn’t reach relatives due to cellphone services being down.

In this image made available Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, a firefighters' helicopter flies over flooding in the town of Ornavasso, in the northern Italian region of Piedmont. (Firefighter Vigili del Fuoco via AP)

In this image made available Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, a firefighters’ helicopter flies over flooding in the town of Ornavasso, in the northern Italian region of Piedmont. (Firefighter Vigili del Fuoco via AP)

French Prime Minister Jean Castex, who flew over the area in a helicopter, expressed “grave concern” over the toll of the flooding.

“As I speak, priority goes to searching for victims, providing supplies and accommodation for the people affected, and restoring communications,” Castex said at a press conference, according to The Weather Channel.

“All my thoughts to the victims of Storm Alex, to their loved ones. Everywhere the state is alongside elected officials to help the French. Together we will overcome this ordeal,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter Saturday. “Immense gratitude to the firefighters, military, police officers, and all the forces engaged in the field.”

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About 10,500 homes were left without electricity on Sunday, French energy company Enedis said.

In Italy, a firefighter was killed during a rescue operation in the mountainous northern region of Val d’Aosta. A search team also found a body in the Piedmont region’s Vercelli province, where a man in his 30s died after his car was swept away by floodwaters.

Italian firefighters also rescued 25 people trapped on the French side of a high mountain pass due to the flooding. Those saved from the Col de Tende high mountain pass in the Alps included several German tourists.

In this image made available Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, firefighters evacuate people from flooding in the town of Ornavasso, in the northern Italian region of Piedmont. (Firefighter Vigili del Fuoco via AP)

In this image made available Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, firefighters evacuate people from flooding in the town of Ornavasso, in the northern Italian region of Piedmont. (Firefighter Vigili del Fuoco via AP)

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The city of Venice was protected by its flood barrier system and remained unscathed by high water damage after suffering heavy storms in August, the BBC reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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