German tourist killed as fierce storms lash southeastern France
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Firefighters in France's southeastern Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region have been inundated with hundreds of emergency calls after a violent hail storm pounded nine departments on Saturday afternoon. In Haute-Savoie, a woman was killed by a falling tree.
The 51 year-old German woman was killed when a tree fell on her caravan parked at a campground in Taninges in Haute-Savoie.
Elsewhere in Savoie, the storm caused flooding and some material damage. The firefighters were called out to assist at least 30 times.
Several trees fell on SNCF train lines, in particular between Chambéry and Montmélian.Police opened a nearby gymnasium for people to shelter as they waited out the delays.
Natural disaster zone to be declared
The departments of Haute-Savoie along with Haute-Loire, Loire, Rhône, Drôme, l'Ardèche, l'Ain, l'Isère, and Savoie were placed on an 'orange' storm warning category which was lifted late afternoon on Saturday.
France's agricultural minister Didier Guillaume announced on Sunday that a natural disaster zone would be declared in the coming hours.
"The zone will be outlined in the coming 48 hours," Guillaume told France Info, referring to the damage in the Drome area.
Hail the size of tennis balls
Firefighters were called some 200 times to assist people in the area around the town of Romans-sur-Isère, where farmers were particularly affected by the storm.
A dozen people were treated for minor injuries and 2,300 households were left without electricity until the evening.
"It was apocalyptic," Marie-Hélène Thoravaldes, mayor of the town, told France Info.
Although the storm only lasted around 15 minutes, it was extremely violent, with hail stones the size of tennis balls pelt certain areas, she said.
A death in Lake Geneva, regatta boats damaged
The bad weather also struck western Switzerland on Saturday afternoon, bringing hail and winds reaching up to 110 km/h, according to the national forecaster MeteoSwiss.
A woman drowned in Lake Geneva when her sightseeing boat sank, police said.
A man who was in the same boat was able to swim to another vessel from where he fired "two flares", Joanna Matta, police spokeswoman for the canton (region) of Geneva, told AFP.
The victim, whose nationality remains unknown, was then taken to a hospital in Geneva where she was declared dead.
In a separate incident, the storm also damaged some of the 465 boats taking part in the 81st edition of the Bol d'Or, an annual regatta on Lake Geneva, the event's press service said.
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