Man missing and 750 evacuated from campsites as floods hit southern France

A rescuer walks in front of a damaged caravan in southern France

An elderly German man, who was helping supervise children at a campsite in southeast France, was missing on Thursday after being swept away by floodwaters, police said.

According to the interior ministry, a total of 1,600 people, a lot of them campers, were evacuated as a precaution in Gard and the nearby Ardeche and Drome regions.

Torrential rain swelled rivers in the Gard region in southern France, flooding five campsites.

Four German children suffering from hypothermia were taken to hospital in Bagnols-sur-Ceze, around 65 miles from Montpellier.

A total of 1,600 people, majority campers, were rescued across Gard and the nearby Ardeche and Drome regions, according to France's interior ministry.

Rescuers believe the man sought shelter in his camper when fast-flowing water burst the banks of the nearby L'Ardeche River, but the vehicle was swept away.

Jean-Yves Chapelet, mayor of Bagnols, said many Dutch tourists were among the 350 campers evacuated there.

A total of 10 people in the region were hospitalized for minor injuries due to the flash floods.

Helicopters were used to spot campsites and occasionally to perform rescues. We just have what we're wearing, ' Rita Mauersberger, a visitor from Germany who was among the campers taking shelter in a local hall in Saint-Julien-de-Peyrolas, told France Info radio.

Hundreds of firefighters backed by four helicopters were involved in the evacuation mission. Authorities warned that the flooding would take time to recede and urged people to be vigilant.

The flood was sparked when a heatwave ended abruptly this week, which gave way to storms.

Around 19,000 homes are without power, Le Monde reported.

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