Floods force more than 1,500 from homes in southern France

People walk in mud-covered streets near damaged cars after the river Massane flooded the city of Argeles-sur-Mer, southern France, due to heavy rains on Nov 30, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
People walk in mud-covered streets near damaged cars after the river Massane flooded the city of Argeles-sur-Mer, southern France, due to heavy rains on Nov 30, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Cars are damaged after the river Massane flooded the city of Argeles-sur-Mer, southern France, due to heavy rains on Nov 30, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Cars are damaged after the river Massane flooded the city of Argeles-sur-Mer, southern France, due to heavy rains on Nov 30, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Cars are damaged after the river Massane flooded the city of Argeles-sur-Mer, southern France, due to heavy rains on Nov 30, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Cars are damaged after the river Massane flooded the city of Argeles-sur-Mer, southern France, due to heavy rains on Nov 30, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Vineyards are flooded by the swollen river La Berre near the city of Portel-des-Corbieres, southern France, following heavy rains on Nov 30, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Vineyards are flooded by the swollen river La Berre near the city of Portel-des-Corbieres, southern France, following heavy rains on Nov 30, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
A photo shows the swollen river La Berre in the flooded city of Portel-des-Corbieres, southern France, following heavy rains on Nov 30, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
A photo shows the swollen river La Berre in the flooded city of Portel-des-Corbieres, southern France, following heavy rains on Nov 30, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

PORTEL-DES-CORBIERES, France (AFP) - The worst flooding in southern France for more than a decade has forced more than 1,500 people to evacuate their homes, officials said Sunday.

"Between 800 and 1,000 people" were evacuating mid-Sunday from homes along the banks of the Agly river in the Pyrenees-Orientales region, the government office there said.

The flooding was considered already more serious than deadly overflows in 1999 and "we are evacuating residents within 200 meters of either side of the river," the government said.

Another 391 people had already left their homes in Canet, Argeles-sur-Mer and Barcares, on the Mediterranean coast.

"I'm 42 and I've never seen anything like it," said Kristel Gregori, who lives in Argeles, near the Massane, a stream which often dries up, but has turned into a 20-metre wide deluge inundating dozens of parked cars.

The river Berre had also flooded, reaching heights a metre above the level seen in flooding in 1999 that left 35 people dead and one missing in the region. About 250 people evacuated from Sigean, located in an area of low-lying land and lagoons just south of Narbonne.

Southern France has been hit by weeks of successive storms and flooding.

Four people died and two including an eight-year-old girl remained missing in southeastern France after violent storms on Thursday and Friday triggered flash flooding, uprooting trees and ripping off roofs.