Deadly Floods Leave 25 Dead, Streets in Ruins in France

(NECN/CNN) - The death toll from flash flooding in southern
France rose to 25 Thursday as rain continued to inundate the region,
authorities said.

Up to 20 millimeters (0.8 inches) of rain fell in some areas overnight,
the Var prefecture said in a statement. Despite the additional rain, most of
the flood waters have begun to recede and cleanup has begun.

Some 104,000 homes were without electricity across the region, and 20,000
homes were without phone connections, the 10prefecture said.

Rescue operations officially ended Thursday and authorities were focusing
on the distribution of food and water,clearing debris and assisting residents
of Draguignan, which was hardest hit, authorities said. The city is about 27
miles west of Cannes.

Authorities warned residents not to drink water that appears or tastes
unusual. They were distributing tens of thousands of bottles of water, along
with meals, in the Draguignan area, the prefecture said.

More local thunderstorms were forecast for Thursday afternoon and
evening, the prefecture said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy was expected to visit the stricken areas
next week, authorities said.

The flooding, which began Tuesday, forced 2,000 people into shelters,
officials said Thursday. Some 1,200 firefighters and 650 police officers have
taken part in the rescue effort, the prefecture said. More than 1,400 people
have been rescued by helicopter and 100 have been rescued by boat.

The flooding also forced French authorities to transfer more than 400
inmates at Draguignan prison to other prisons in the south of France.

Var includes the Cote d'Azur, a popular tourist destination along the
French Riviera.

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