Monday, March 1, 2010

Weak sea walls blamed for France storm disaster

clipped from
Flooded mobile home park in L'Aiguillon-sur-Mer, western France, 1 March 2010
Blame is being laid on weak and aged sea defences after violent storms left at least 50 dead and thousands homeless along France's Atlantic coast.

Many died after the sea wall off the coastal town of L'Aiguillon-sur-Mer was breached, allowing 8m-high (26ft) waves to crash through the streets.

A local governor said the walls dated back to the time of Napoleon and needed to be replaced with taller barriers.

"It is a national disaster, a human drama with a terrible death toll," he said. "The urgent thing is to support the families who have members missing or dead."

The Atlantic storm, named Xynthia, smashed into the western coasts of France, Portugal and Spain on Sunday, with torrential rain driven by winds of up to 140km/h (87mph).

The storm has since swept north-eastwards into Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. and deaths have been reported in Portugal, Spain, Belgium and Germany.

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