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One person still missing after floods in southern France

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Wind, hail and rain blow in Rodilhan, Gard, France September 14, 2021, in this screen grab obtained from a social media video. @YLONA91/via REUTERS

One person was still reported missing on Tuesday (14 September) after torrential rain hit the Gard region in southern France, said Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who visited the area, write Dominique Vidalon and Benoit Van Overstraeten, Reuters.

Other people who had been reported missing have been found, local authorities said.

"About 60 villages have been partially hit", Darmanin said on BFM TV.

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"The weather situation has improved since mid-afternoon but it will worsen again overnight," the region's prefect said in a statement, adding that schools in the area would be closed on Wednesday (15 September).

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Belgium

Climate change made deadly floods in Western Europe at least 20% more likely - study

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A house hit by a landslide is seen after heavy rain caused flooding in towns surrounding Lake Como in northern Italy, in Laglio, Italy. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

Climate change has made extreme rainfall events of the kind that sent lethal torrents of water hurtling through parts of Germany and Belgium last month at least 20% more likely to happen in the region, scientists said Tuesday, writes Isla Binnie, Reuters.

The downpour was likely made heavier by climate change as well. A day of rainfall can now be up to 19% more intense in the region than it would have been had global atmospheric temperatures not risen by 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.16 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial temperatures, according to research published by the World Weather Attribution (WWA) scientific consortium.

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"We will definitely get more of this in a warming climate," said the group's co-leader Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at the University of Oxford.

"Extreme weather is deadly," said Otto, recalling that she urgently contacted family members who live in the affected areas to make sure they were safe when the floods hit. "For me it was very close to home."

With extreme weather events dominating news headlines in recent years, scientists have been under increasing pressure to determine exactly how much climate change is to blame.

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During the last year alone, scientists found that U.S. drought, a deadly Canadian heat wave and wildfires across the Siberian Arctic have been worsened by a warming atmosphere.

The July 12-15 rainfall over Europe triggered flooding that swept away houses and power lines, and left more than 200 people dead, mostly in Germany. Dozens died in Belgium and thousands were also forced to flee their homes in the Netherlands. Read more.

"The fact that people are losing their lives in one of the richest countries in the world -- that is truly shocking," said climate scientist Ralf Toumi at the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London, who was not involved in the study. "Nowhere is safe."

Although the deluge was unprecedented, the 39 WWA scientists found that local rainfall patterns are highly variable.

So they conducted their analysis over a wider area spanning parts of France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland. They used local weather records and computer simulations to compare the July flooding event with what might have been expected in a world unaffected by climate change.

Because warmer air holds more moisture, summer downpours in this region are now 3-19% heavier than they would be without global warming, the scientists found.

And the event itself was anywhere from 1.2 to 9 times -- or 20% to 800% -- more likely to have occurred.

That broad range of uncertainty was partly explained by a lack of historical records, WWA explained, and worsened by the floods destroying equipment that monitored river conditions. Read more.

Still, the "study confirms that global heating has played a big part in the flooding disaster," said Stefan Rahmstorf, a scientist and oceanographer at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who was not involved in the study.

"This is in line with the finding of the recent IPCC report, which found that extreme rainfall events have increased worldwide," he added, referring to a U.N. climate panel's findings. Read more.

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Flooding

Turkey combats Black Sea floods, death toll rises to 27

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Search and Rescue team members evacuate a girl during flash floods which have swept through towns in the Turkish Black Sea region, in Bozkurt, a town in Kastamonu province, Turkey, August 12, 2021. Picture taken August 12, 2021. Onder Godez/Ministry of Interior Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) Press Office/Handout via REUTERS
Search and Rescue team members evacuate a girl during flash floods which have swept through towns in the Turkish Black Sea region, in Bozkurt, a town in Kastamonu province, Turkey, August 12, 2021. Picture taken August 12, 2021. Onder Godez/Ministry of Interior Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) Press Office/Handout via REUTERS

Search and Rescue team members evacuate locals during flash floods which have swept through towns in the Turkish Black Sea, in Bozkurt, a town in Kastamonu province, Turkey, August 12, 2021. Picture taken August 12, 2021. Onder Godez/Ministry of Interior Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) Press Office/Handout via REUTERS

Emergency workers battled to relieve flood-hit areas of Turkey's Black Sea region on Friday, as the death toll rose to 27 in the second natural disaster to strike the country this month, write Nevzat Devranoglu, Ali Kucukgocmen and Daren Butler.

The floods, among the worst Turkey has experienced, brought chaos to northern provinces just as authorities were declaring wildfires that raged through southern coastal regions for two weeks had been brought under control.

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Torrents of water tossed dozens of cars and heaps of debris along streets, with bridges destroyed, roads closed and electricity cut to hundreds of villages. Media reports said President Tayyip Erdogan was to visit the region on Friday.

"This is the worst flood disaster I have seen," Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told reporters late on Thursday after surveying damage which extended across the provinces of Bartin, Kastamonu and Sinop.

"The risk that our citizens face is high... There is a lot of damage to infrastructure."

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Twenty-five people died as a result of floods in Kastamonu and another two people died in Sinop, the country's Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) said.

Sinop Mayor Baris Ayhan put the death toll in his province at three, adding that authorities could not contact another 20 people. He urged the government to declare it a disaster zone.

"The infrastructure in Ayancik (district) has completely collapsed. The sewage system is destroyed. There is no electricity or water," he told Reuters.

The floods and fires, which killed eight people and devastated tens of thousands of hectares of forest, struck in the same week that a U.N. panel said global warming was dangerously close to spiralling out of control, and warned that extreme weather would become more severe.

Footage of the flood's first moments in Kastamonu's Bozkurt district showed the river there overflowing in a fast-moving deluge which tore up trees and dragged away vehicles.

More than 1,700 people were evacuated from flood-affected areas, some with the help of helicopters and boats, AFAD said.

Helicopters lowered coast guard personnel onto the roofs of buildings to rescue people who were stranded as flood water swept through the streets, footage shared by the Interior Ministry showed.

The deluge damaged power infrastructure, leaving about 330 villages without electricity. Five bridges had collapsed and many others were damaged, leading to road closures, AFAD added. Parts of the roads were also swept away.

Turkey's meteorology authority said further heavy rain was expected in the central and eastern Black Sea region and warned of the risk of further floods.

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Belgium

Cars and pavements washed away as Belgian town hit by worst floods in decades

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The southern Belgian town of Dinant was hit by the heaviest floods in decades on Saturday (24 July) after a two-hour thunderstorm turned streets into torrential streams that washed away cars and pavements but did not kill anyone, writes Jan Strupczewski, Reuters.

Dinant was spared the deadly floods 10 days ago that killed 37 people in southeast Belgium and many more in Germany, but the violence of Saturday's storm surprised many.

"I have been living in Dinant for 57 years, and I've never seen anything like that," Richard Fournaux, the former mayor of the town on the Meuse river and birthplace of the 19th century inventor of the saxophone, Adolphe Sax, said on social media.

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A woman works to recover her belongings following heavy rainfall in Dinant, Belgium July 25, 2021. REUTERS/Johanna Geron
A woman walks in an area affected by heavy rainfall in Dinant, Belgium July 25, 2021. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

Rainwater gushing down steep streets swept away dozens of cars, piling them in a heap at a crossing, and washed away cobbles stones, pavements and whole sections of tarmac as inhabitants watched in horror from windows.

There was no precise estimate of the damage, with town authorities predicting only that it would be "significant", according to Belgian RTL TV.

The storm wreaked similar havoc, also with no loss of life, in the small town of Anhee a few kilometres north of Dinant.

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