Floods Hit France, Italy; UK Motorway Crash Leaves 7 Dead, 51 Injured

November 7, 2011

Continuing heavy rains have caused serious flooding in southern France and throughout Italy, with little letup in sight. In western England an horrendous crash on the M25 motorway in Somerset, involving 34 cars and trucks, left seven people dead and 51 injured, many in serious condition.

Seven Departments in France have been on an “orange” flood alert, the second highest category, since Thursday – the Alpes Maritime, Var, Vaucluse, Hérault, Aude, Gard and Pyrenées Oriental – as local rivers burst their banks, flooding cities, villages and vast tracts of farmland. Three deaths have been reported, and the French weather service sees no let up in the heavy rains that have caused the floods until Thursday. No damage estimates have yet been issued, but they will be substantial.

In Italy the authorities have issued fresh flood warnings as the same storms and torrential rains, which have hit France move towards the Northeast. A number of cities have been affected, including Genoa, Milan, Venice and Turin (where the river Po rose by more than 4 meters [app. 13 feet]. Evacuations have been ordered in many areas have been many evacuations ordered, and at least seven deaths reported so far.

Heavy rains have also hit other parts of Italy, as far south as Naples, where evacuations of several low lying areas have been ordered.

The crash on the M25, near the town of Taunton, is the UK’s worst in terms of the number of vehicles involved. The cause is still under investigation, but it has been reported that the roadway was obscured by thick fog and heavy rains, possibly in combination with smoke, generated by a local fireworks show near the highway.

Witnesses described an immense fireball and several explosions almost immediately after the crash, which greatly hampered rescue efforts. Aerial photographs show more the 600 feet of burned and mangled vehicles. The M25, a major north-south highway, wasn’t reopened until late Sunday night.

Source: news reports

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