Brutal storms with winds up to 140 mph (224 km/h) killed five people on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica early Thursday, including a 13-year-old girl who was killed when a tree fell on her campsite bungalow, authorities said.
It was the third day of intense rains across much of southern France that had caused flash flooding and lightning but had so far left no casualties.
The girl was killed at a campsite near Sagone on the island’s rugged west coast, where nine others were injured, including one seriously, rescue workers told AFP.
At a nearby beach in Coggia, a 72-year-old woman died after the roof of a beach hut blew off and landed on the vehicle she was in, regional authorities said.
“I was woken up around 7:30 a.m. by a very big storm,” which knocked out both the electricity and cellphone networks, said Benjamin Roux, a 26-year-old tourist, on the beach near where the woman was killed became.
He had intended to go scuba diving but instead was helping the passengers of a boat who were sleeping on board when the choppy waves suddenly threw it onto shore.
“They managed to get out with no injuries, but they’re just devastated,” he told AFP.
Further north, near the resort of Calvi, a 46-year-old French man was also killed at a campsite and a 23-year-old Italian woman suffered serious injuries while camping nearby.
Maritime authorities later said a fisherman died near Girolata and a kayaker died near Erbalunga, north of Bastia.
“Several rescues of pleasure boats” were also carried out near the capital Ajaccio, said Jean-Jacques Peraldi, head of the fire and rescue service SDIS.
The maritime authorities reported 60 to 70 sea rescue operations, mainly along the west coast, which bore the brunt of the night’s storm, which according to the weather service Meteo France was now moving towards Italy.
Authorities had urged people to avoid travel and take other precautions after storm warnings were issued on Wednesday for several Mediterranean departments but also along the Normandy coast and near the south-eastern city of Lyon.
Around 35,000 households in Corsica remain without electricity, said the energy supplier EDF.
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