German man missing after floods rip through French campsite

Rescuers in a flooded area of a campsite in Saint-Julien-de-Peyrolas as storms and heavy rains sweep across France on Aug 9, 2018.
Rescuers in a flooded area of a campsite in Saint-Julien-de-Peyrolas as storms and heavy rains sweep across France on Aug 9, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

MARSEILLE (AFP) - An elderly German man, who was helping supervise children at a campsite in south-east France, was missing on Thursday (Aug 9) after being swept away by floodwaters, police said.

The 75-year-old man was accompanying a group of more than 100 German children who were evacuated from a campsite in Saint-Julien-de-Peyrolas, some 60km north of Avignon in the Gard region.

Trapped by a muddy, fast-flowing torrent after the Ardeche river burst its banks, he sought shelter inside his caravan, but the vehicle was swept away.

It was later found "empty and in pieces" near the river, police said.

He was the only person unaccounted for after a rescue operation at three campsites in the area, where a heatwave ended abruptly this week in storms that caused flash flooding.

Divers were taking part in the search for the missing man, an AFP journalist at the scene said.

The group of 136 children and young people from the German city of Leverkusen were now safe.

Ten people were taken to hospital suffering from hypothermia and minor injuries, said regional police spokesman Jerome Tallaron.

According to the interior ministry, a total of 1,600 people, most of them campers, were evacuated as a precaution in Gard and the nearby Ardeche and Drome regions.

Several parts of central and south-east France are on flood alert after weeks of blazing temperatures erupted in storms on Thursday, turning several campsites into mudbaths.

Around 17,000 homes in the south-west and north-east were without power.