Six people killed as flash flooding hits Aude, southwest France

Flood waters rose to the first floor of some homes

At least six people have been killed by flash floods in the Aude region of south-western France.

Of the five people confirmed dead, a nun was swept away by the waters in Villardonnel, and two people, initially missing, were found dead in Villegailhenc.

One woman was swept away by the River Aude, local broadcaster BFMTV reports.

Another person was killed when their house collapsed.

The flooding, said to be seven metres deep in places, has reached levels not seen since 1891 in Aude, according to weather service Vigicrue. She posted video of the ripped-up road where the bridge used to be, with the town now cut in half.

Television images showed waters coursing through French towns and villages, with cars stranded in the floods and piled up on top of each other like children's toys.

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Seven helicopters were scrambled to rescue people from the roofs of their homes, and rough weather was making operations hard, the prefect of Aude, Alain Thirion, said.

In Villegailhenc, 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.

Other roads also were flooded, leaving the town cut off, said the 17-year-old whose school was closed. We're going to have to use aircraft to evacuate them because we can not reach them by boat gave the force of the water.

Water levels are expected to rise again on Monday, with rain forecast until late in the morning. It's much too unsafe'.

Residents have been urged to stay inside their homes by emergency services and local authorities, who have issued a red alert.

Torrential rain is not uncommon in France at this time of year, but meteorologists have said exceptionally warm sea water along the Mediterranean coast may be intensifying the rains.

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