Flood rescuers killed in helicopter crash

Nellie Chapman
December 5, 2019

Six people, including three emergency workers, have died in severe flooding in the south of France as a new bout of bad weather lashed the area, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Officials said the chopper was flying in darkness around the Var region when it lost radio contact.

France's Mediterranean coast has been hit by heavy rain over the last week that has led to serious flooding and widespread transport disruption.

An investigation on the circumstances of the crash is underway.

The three were found dead at 1:30 am near the town of Rove, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner and his secretary of state Laurent Nunez said in a statement.

A few thousand people - veterans, uniformed military units and ordinary residents - lined the Alexander II Bridge and the esplanade leading toward the gold-domed Invalides monument in Paris on Monday to pay their respects, as 13 hearses drove slowly past.

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French police and firefighters work around the site where a helicopter from the civil security services crashed while en route to help people caught up in heavy flooding, in Le Rove near Les-Pennes-Mirabeau, France, on December 2, 2019.

In the Var region, a herdsman was swept off as he was attempting to traverse a ford in his 4×4 while attending to his flock. His body was later found in the 4x4 further downstream.

Elsewhere in the region, the owner of a stables was found dead two hours after he was also washed away while out watching over his animals, it said.

Some of the dead appeared to have been swept away by floodwaters, Aude prefect Alain Thirion said.

Vigicrues, the French agency that monitors rivers for flood risks, said water levels in the Aude region were higher than at any time since 1891.

The French government rushed hundreds of rescue workers to the flood zone and helicopters buzzed overhead.

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