Flash floods have killed at least five people in southwest France, with roads swept away and rivers overflowing as the equivalent of several months of rain fell overnight in the space of hours, an official said Monday.
Alain Thirion, the prefect of the Aude region, gave the death toll in a phone interview with 24-hour news channel BFMTV.
Several deaths were clustered around the town of Villegailhenc.
Thirion said some of the dead appeared to have been swept away by floodwaters. In the town of Conques-sur-Orbiel, the river rose by more than six meters (20 feet), he said. Floodwaters were in some cases too powerful for the emergency services to get through, even on boats, he said.
Television images showed waters coursing through towns and villages, with cars stranded in the floodwaters.
Schools were closed and authorities were urging people to stay home.