Flash floods kill at least 13 people in southwest France

Residents carrying packs of bottled water walk past damaged cars on October 15, 2018 in Villegailhenc, near Carcassone, southern France, following heavy rains that saw rivers bursting banks. (AFP)
Updated 15 October 2018
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Flash floods kill at least 13 people in southwest France

  • People had to be helicoptered to safety from the roofs of their homes as overnight storms dumped

PARIS: Flash floods tore through towns in southwest France, turning waterways into raging torrents that killed at least 13 people, nine of them in just one town, authorities said Monday. People had to be helicoptered to safety from the roofs of their homes as overnight storms dumped the equivalent of several months of rain in just a few hours.
Worst hit was the town of Trebes, east of the medieval walled city of Carcassonne. The rains that swept in from the Mediterranean killed nine people there, Interior Ministry spokesman Frederic de Lanouvelle said.
He told BFMTV that the floods in the Aude region also killed four other people in other locations, left one person missing and seriously injured five others.
In the town of Villegailhenc, witness Ines Siguet said the waters rose so quickly that people were stranded on the roofs of their homes and had to be helicoptered to safety. She posted video of a ripped-up road where a bridge used to be, torn away by a flood torrent that cut the town in half.
“There’s nothing left. There’s just a hole,” the 17-year-old resident told The Associated Press. “It was very violent.”
Other roads also were flooded, leaving the town cut off, she said. Siguet’s school was shut down amid the destruction. Two people were killed in the town, according to the Aude regional government.
Alain Thirion, the prefect of Aude, said some of the dead appeared to have been swept away by floodwaters. In the town of Conques-sur-Orbiel, the river rose by more than six meters (20 feet), he said.
Floodwaters were in some cases too powerful for emergency services to get through, even on boats, he said.
Television images showed waters coursing through towns and villages, with cars stranded in the floods and piled up on top of each other like children’s toys.
The French government rushed hundreds of rescue workers into the flood zone and helicopters buzzed overhead. Schools were closed and authorities were urging people to stay home.


US Navy chief does not rule out sending aircraft carrier through Taiwan Strait

Updated 56 min 43 sec ago
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US Navy chief does not rule out sending aircraft carrier through Taiwan Strait

  • Aircraft carriers, typically equipped with about 80 aircraft and crews of about 5,000, are key to the US military’s ability to project power globally
  • The US Navy continues to pass through waters in the South China Sea that Beijing considers its territory

TOKYO: The US Navy has not ruled out sending an aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait, despite military technology advances by China that pose a greater threat to US warships than ever before, the chief of US naval operations said on Friday.
Washington sent ships through the strategic waterway three times last year as it makes more frequent transits of the strait that separates Taiwan from the Chinese mainland, but it has not dispatched a carrier in more than 10 years.
During that time, China has modernized its forces with missiles designed to strike enemy ships.
“We don’t really see any kind of limitation on whatever type of ship could pass through those waters,” Admiral John Richardson told reporters in the Japanese capital, when asked if more advanced Chinese weapons posed too big a risk.
“We see the Taiwan Strait as another (stretch of) international waters, so that’s why we do the transits.”
Aircraft carriers, typically equipped with about 80 aircraft and crews of about 5,000, are key to the US military’s ability to project power globally.
On Tuesday, a US official told Reuters the United States was closely watching Chinese intentions toward Taiwan as advances in military technology give Beijing’s forces greater capability to occupy an island it considers a breakaway province.
In a report, the US Defense Intelligence Agency called Taiwan the “primary driver” for China’s military modernization.
Richardson, who visited China before traveling to Japan, said he told his Chinese counterparts the United States was opposed to any unilateral action by Beijing or Taipei.
He also urged China to stick to international rules during unplanned naval encounters at sea.
That request came after a Chinese destroyer approached the USS Decatur in October and forced it to change course as it challenged Chinese territorial claims in the contested South China Sea with a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP).
“We have made this very clear that this was an excursion, a departure from the normal adherence to those rules and we would hope that behavior in the future would be much more consistent,” Richardson said.
“We should not see each other as a threatening presence in these waters.”
The US Navy continues to pass through waters in the South China Sea that Beijing considers its territory.
On Jan 7, a US guided-missile destroyer sailed within 12 miles of a Chinese-occupied island, prompting Beijing’s rebuke that it had “gravely infringed upon China’s sovereignty.”
China, which claims almost all of the strategic waterway, says its intentions are peaceful. Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have competing claims.