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France

Lourdes floods subside after pilgrims evacuated

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Floodwaters were subsiding in the French city of Lourdes on Sunday and forecasters said new flooding was unlikely. But storms were approaching south-west France from Spain with high winds and hail possible.

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Over 400 pilgrims, who had come to visit the famous grotto dedicated to the Virgin Mary, were moved out of their hotels on Saturday and lodged in hotels on higher ground, thanks to the town council and the Red Cross.

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The Gave de Pau river, which runs through Lourdes, rose overnight but was expected to subside during the day.

Rescue workers reported water levels subsiding in the streets, where they had reached up to 1.20 metre, and the shrines, where they had reached 1.60 metres.

“The waters have begun to subside,” regional rescue services chief Patrick Heyraud told regional paper La Dépêche du Midi. “That means that we begin our work pumping out cellars and basements, pump out the water that is in low-lying areas and in the shrines.”

But the region is still on alert for heavy rain coming from north-eastern Spain, where one woman has died and at least two others are missing due to storms and flooding.

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