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French flood death toll hits 16 as Hollande visits stricken Côte d'Azur

Inondations à Mandelieu-la-Napoule, près de Cannes, dans le sud de la France, le 4 octobre 2015. Reuters/Eric Gaillard

The death toll in floods on France's Riviera rose to at least 16 with another four reported missing on Sunday as French President François Hollande visited the stricken region. Hundreds of Italian pilgrims were trapped overnight in trains from the Lourdes shrine.

Hollande, who was accompanied by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, pledged the "solidarity of the nation" on a visit to the Côte d'Azur as it recovered from Saturday night's storms and floods.

President François Hollande visits the Camping du Pylone in Biot, near Antibes Reuters/Jean-Pierre Amet

Click here to read our earlier article on the flooding.

Up to 180 millimetres of rain fell in just three hours, flooding the streets of towns and cities, including the seaside resorts of Cannes, Nice and Antibes.

  • Over 1,000 Italian pilgrims, many of them elderly or disabled and accompanied by doctors, were to travel home on a reopened track Sunday after being trapped in trains returning from the Catholic shrine at Lourdes.
  • At Mandelieu-la-Napoule, the worst-hit town, the death toll, mainly of people who went to underground carparks to move their cars, stood at seven at midday Sunday with another person missing and rescue workers saying that further bodies could be hidden by the murky waters.
  • In Cannes, where two were reported dead and two missing, mayor David Lisnard said some residents had been "very attached to their vehicles when they should have been saving lives" and reported that nine people had been arrested for looting shops.
    Red Cross volunteers at Biot on Sunday Reuters/Jean-Pierre
  • In Antibes a campsite where one person died was devastated and only one lane in each direction of the A8 motorway was open on Sunday after it had been closed by floods overnight.
  • Between Toulon and Nice no trains were running on Sunday morning and serious damage was done to rail infrastructure in the region, especially near Cannes, according to the SNCF rail company.

Pope Francis called for "concrete solidarity" with the victims on Sunday morning.