Flood alert, waves-submersion: two children aged 4 and 13 missing in Gard, five bodies found

The death toll from floods in the south of France rose on Monday March 11, reaching five deaths

Flood alert, waves-submersion: two children aged 4 and 13 missing in Gard, five bodies found

The death toll from floods in the south of France rose on Monday March 11, reaching five deaths. In Gard, the body of a man, who could be that of the father who had been missing with his two children since Saturday evening, was discovered on Monday, the prefecture said.

The two children, aged 4 and 13, swept away by the waves while trying to cross a submersible bridge over the Gardon (another name for Gard) in Dions are still missing. The 40-year-old mother was saved and hospitalized. The car was found, empty, downstream from the scene of the tragedy, linked to the passage of storm Monica.

Three victims had previously been found dead in Gard. They had, just like the missing people, attempted to cross submersible bridges over the swollen rivers, swollen by the downpours which fell on Saturday and during the night, sometimes the value of more than a month of rain in barely twenty-four hours. More than two hundred firefighters, gendarmes and other rescuers in total were mobilized in this department to find the missing, with boats, helicopters, drones and dogs.

Furthermore, at the beginning of the afternoon, Monday, the Hérault prefecture announced on its X account that “a man was found deceased in Pézenas on a section which was on yellow flood alert during the bad weather of this weekend ". This 87-year-old man is therefore the fifth victim of these bad weather, which affected several departments in the South. The prefect specified that “searches are being carried out nearby (…) to find a woman who could have accompanied him”. Other teams are also looking for a missing man in Ardèche, a neighboring department.

A man missing in Ardèche

The first lifeless body was found a few hundred meters from where a car, with two people of Belgian nationality, was swept away by the waves on Saturday around 6:45 p.m. in Gagnières, a village in the north of the department. The vehicle had taken a bridge when the road had been closed by the municipality and a country guard had directly asked the driver not to take it.

One of the two people on board the vehicle managed to get out, before being recovered by rescuers after spending more than two hours hanging on branches. The two men lived in Gagnières, the prefecture told Agence France-Presse.

In Goudargues, population 1,100, in the north of Gard near Ardèche, rescuers found two bodies in a car. They were conducting searches there after an emergency call from two motorists saying they were in difficulty, received around 5 a.m. Sunday. According to the first elements of the investigation, communicated by the Gard prefecture, the car would have been occupied by two women, aged 47 and 50, who were going to Spain.

In the neighboring department of Ardèche, a man has also been missing since Saturday in the village of Saint-Martin-de-Valamas, following bad weather, the prefecture explained. According to a gendarmerie source, it is the manager of a hydroelectric power station who had gone to check its installation. In Montselgues, according to the prefecture, a landslide led to the collapse of two secondary houses – no victims were reported.

Five departments still on orange flood alert

“My thoughts are with the victims of the bad weather and their families, as well as with the people affected,” reacted in the evening on X the president, Emmanuel Macron. Calling for “vigilance and caution”, he said that “state services are mobilized to provide assistance and find our missing”.

Gard and six other departments were placed on orange alert on Saturday by Météo-France due to storm Monica. “[Despite the repetition of precautionary messages,] we still deplore behavior (…) dangerous, first of all for the people who expose themselves, also dangerous for the people whose duty it is to come to their aid,” said declared the Gard prefecture, which estimates that such an episode had not occurred in the department for around ten years.

Five departments are still on orange alert for flooding on Monday (Charente-Maritime, Gironde, Puy-de-Dôme, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Yonne), according to the latest bulletin, updated at 10 a.m., issued by Météo-France. Vigilance has been lifted in Bouches-du-Rhône, Saône-et-Loire and Gard. The Gironde is maintained on yellow alert for wave-submersion.