Rescuers among 6 dead in storms on French Riviera

Full Screen
1 / 4

A pedestrian waits with an umbrella to cross the road during a storm in Marseille, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019. The southern France region is under a red alert for heavy rain and floods. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

PARIS – A helicopter crash killed three French rescuers on a mission to save people trapped by floods, and three others were also killed in heavy rains that pounded France’s Mediterranean coast in a second week of deadly flooding in the region.

Brown floodwaters continued to gush down streets Monday in towns around the picturesque Provence region, blocking vehicles and complicating cleanup efforts.

The helicopter that crashed had carried out 13 rescue missions Sunday and was being diverted to another storm-slammed area, near the inland town of Le Luc, when it lost radio contact, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said. Emergency teams found the bodies of the three men aboard early Monday near the port city Marseille, and the wreckage was spotted nearby. An investigation is underway.

Three other people were killed in the storm, according to local authorities: a stable owner whose vehicle was swept away by floodwaters as he tried to check on his horses, a sheep farmer trying to gather his flock, and a woman in her thirties whose body was found Monday after she, too, was swept away.

A rock fall Monday onto houses also left two people injured, authorities said.

Six people were also killed in flooding around France’s Mediterranean coast a week ago. Expressing condolences for those killed in both storms, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe noted the “growing regularity and intensity” of extreme weather events.

Arriving at crucial U.N. climate talks in Madrid on Monday, Philippe said that “many see, and rightly so, the signs of climate change in this, and signs of the threats that are weighing on the populations of France and the world. Anyone who ignores these signs ... is making a profound mistake.”