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France

Dozens injured, thousands without power in second night of storms in France

Railworkers clear branches from track near Pauillac, south-west France
Railworkers clear branches from track near Pauillac, south-west France Nicolas Tucat/AFP
3 min

Over 130,000 homes were without electricity and a 72-year-old man was “between life and death” in hospital Sunday after more violent storms swept France overnight. The man was among 30 people injured when a marquee collapsed on a village fete.

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About 300-400 people were at the dance in Joinville on the banks of the river Marne in the east of the country when a gust of wind raised the marquee in the air, dropping it onto the participants, most of whom were elderly.

Thirty people were injured and 18 were still in hospital on Sunday morning.

The department, Haute-Marne, was on yellow alert for storms, while the neighbouring ones were on the higher orange alert, which would have led the local council, which organised the dance, to call it off, local officials said.

Electricity company, ERDF, which had struggled on Saturday to restore power to thousands of households cut off in Friday night’s storms, reported that 130,000 homes had no electricity on Sunday morning.

About 80,000 of them suffered power cuts on Saturday night, while 50,000 had been without for more than 24 hours.

ERDF hopes to restore power to the latter by Sunday evening but many of the others may have to wait until Monday.

Other storm damage included:

  • TGV high-speed trains were running again on Saturday afternoon after stopping on the Paris-Bordeaux line;
  • Delays on the rail network were still expected Sunday - the SNCF rail company is offering 50 per cent refunds on trains that are four hours late and 100 per cent for those that are more than five hours late;
  • About 53,000 Orange customers had no phone service in the Aquitaine and Poitou-Charentes regions, with 13,000 having no access to the internet and others unable to use their mobiles;
  • In the western city of Nantes a postal worker was in a critical condition after being struck by lightning in the street on Saturday, while a 70-year-old woman was seriously injured near Bordeaux when a church steeple collapsed on her home.

Five departments in the south-east and centre of France were on storm alert on Sunday, with strong winds, lightning and some hail predicted on Sunday night.

They included the Bouches-du-Rhone, around Marseille, the Gard, the Hérault and Vaucluse.

The Isère and Rhone departments were also on heatwave alert.

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