French police detain 2 campsite officials in flooding probe
BERLIN (AP) — French police detained two officials from a German association that operates a campsite in southern France where flooding danger prompted evacuations and a man was reported missing, a local prosecutor said Friday.
The association, based in Leverkusen, Germany, owns the property in Saint-Julien-de-Peyrolas where the campsite was built without authorization, Nimes Prosecutor Eric Maurel told French broadcaster BFM TV.
The two officials were being questioned “because the campsite was set up in a flood-risk area despite warnings,” Maurel said. They are being investigated on allegations of “endangering life of others” and causing “unintentional injuries,” he said.
Some 119 children, many of them from Germany, were evacuated from the campsite on Thursday night after heavy rain caused flash floods and rivers and streams to overflow.
French authorities still were looking for a 67-year-old man, reportedly a German citizen serving as the campsite’s monitor, who had not been seen since his van was swept away in the unexpected rush of fast-moving water.
The region’s chief gendarme, Col. Laurent Haas, told BFM authorities still were “not certain he was actually present” when that happened.
Hass said 46 adults also were rescued from the campsite.
Some 1,600 people in all were evacuated Thursday in three regions of southern France due to storms.
“I’ve been coming since early 80s, when I was a teenager, and I’ve never seen anything, anything like it,” Tom Bryan, a Briton vacationing in the village of Saint-Andre-de-Roquepertuis, told Sky TV.
“The (water) level was so high it was impassable on either bank. Campsite is gone, restaurants gone and such a high amount of water. My wife saw a whole caravan float down the river,” he added.
Extreme weather affected other parts of Europe on Friday following weeks of unusually hot temperatures. Germany’s national railway worked to reopen routes closed the previous night due to storms.
Across Norway, ferry companies canceled crossings Friday. Authorities warned hikers of fierce winds in the mountains and called on people to securely fasten small boats, tents and other gear.
In Thy, in northwestern Denmark, high winds apparently blew a metal tent peg into a 61-year-old camper’s throat as he was packing up. He was taken by helicopter to a hospital and was in serious condition, police spokesman Henrik Nielsen told public broadcaster DR.
Parts of northern Germany saw storms late Thursday and early Friday that brought winds of up to 140 kph (87 mph) to the country’s coast. The gusts brought down trees and significantly disrupted public transportation.
Germany’s railway operator, Deutsche Bahn, closed several train routes Thursday night as the storms approached. Service disruptions continued until Friday afternoon on some routes.