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

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.


Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

Updated 21 January 2020

Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

  • Ex-president says Taliban offer to reduce violence a ‘major development’

KABUL: Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged President Ashraf Ghani to drop the pre-condition of cease-fire to begin talks with the Taliban amid high hope that the US and Taliban delegates will sign a deal following more than a year of secret discussions.

Speaking in an interview with BBC local service, Karzai said the government “should not block intra-Afghan dialogue under the pretext of cease-fire.” He said the Taliban offer for reduction in violence as the group says is nearing to ink the deal with American diplomats in Qatar, was a “major development.”

He said Ghani needed to accept the Taliban offer.

Ghani says truce is a must ahead of starting any negotiations with the Taliban calling reduction in violence a general term and arguing that such a call by the Taliban political leaders in Qatar only goes to show that they have control over field commanders back in Afghanistan.

The Taliban say the group will announce truce when the intra-Afghan dialogue begins which will happen after Washington sets timetable for withdrawal of the troops.

Washington at least on one occasion called off the talks with the Taliban in Qatar due to Taliban attacks back in Afghanistan as discussions continued in Qatar despite none of the warring sides having committed to halt offensives during the talks.

Ghani’s government has been sidelined from all rounds of talks between the Taliban delegates and US diplomats led by Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar. There has also been rift between Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who shares power with the president in the National Unity Government, on the pre-condition of cease-fire.

Unlike Ghani, Abdullah is happy with reduction of violence. Talking in a meeting of council of ministers, Abdullah on Monday indirectly said Ghani had taken the peace process in his monopoly.

 “Peace is not one person’s monopoly, one person’s wish — but it is a collective desire, and the people of Afghanistan have the right to take a position regarding the peace process,” said Abdullah.