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France

Storm Xynthia cost 1.5 billion euros, say insurers

A flood-hit barn in L'Aiguillon-sur-Mer in the Vendée
A flood-hit barn in L'Aiguillon-sur-Mer in the Vendée AFP

French insurance companies estimate that last month’s Storm Xynthia cost the country 1.5 billion euros, higher than recent devastating storms. An official decree has declared 62 more administrative districts to be in a state of natural disaster.

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“Our first figure of 1.2 billion euros is out of date and our latest evaluation is at 1.5 billion euros,” Bernard Spitz of the insurers’ association, FFSA, told the Journal de Dimanche newspaper Saturday.

“Our estimates lead us to believe that we will reach 500,000 people affected, which is a considerable amount.”

Spitz says that Xynthia caused more damage than similar storms which have hit France, such as last year's Typhoon Klaus. However, the “storm of the [20th] century” in 1999 caused 92 deaths, compared to 53 caused by Xynthia, and cost the country tens of billions of euros.

Vehicles, insulation in housing and household appliances have suffered the most damage, Spitz says.

Sixty-two communes (local administrative districts) in the western Loire-Atlantique and Gironde regions have been declared in a state of natural disaster by an official decree published Saturday. The announcement means that victims may claim compensation from their insurers.

Communes in Charente-maritime, Deux-Sèvres, Vendée et Vienne were given the same status on 2 March.

President Nicolas Sarkozy is to visit the Vendée and Charente-maritime on Tuesday, between the two rounds of this month's regional elections.

 

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