France and Italy floods: Bodies swept out of cemeteries as search for missing continues

Corpses from cemeteries have been washing up on Mediterranean shores in France and Italy after flooding at the weekend.

The bodies were apparently swept down the mountains by violent rains.

A total of 12 deaths have been reported since Storm Alex started pounding France’s Alpes-Maritimes region and Italy’s north-western regions of Liguria and Piedmont on Friday.

Authorities say more than 600 rescuers and others were searching for at least 20 people still missing.

Three more bodies were discovered Monday on the French side of the border with Italy after severe mountain flooding ravaged parts of both countries, with nine having already been found.

The prefect of Alpes-Maritimes told the Nice Matin newspaper that some bodies found in Italy were apparently corpses from coffins that had been swept across the border by the raging floodwaters.

Bernard Gonzalez said as of Monday afternoon, two more bodies had been found in the region after another was found Sunday in the hard-hit town of Saint-Martin-Vesubie.

Another body was later found in the same town, he said later, bringing the total on the French side to four.

In Italy, a woman’s body was discovered Monday in the Mediterranean Sea by the Ligurian province of Imperia.

Five other bodies, all men, were found on Sunday in the sea near San Remo, on the beach in the Italian border town of Ventimiglia and along the Imperia coast.

Mr Gonzalez said he had been in touch with Italian colleagues about bodies found on beaches of Liguria.

“The bodies found correspond to decomposing cadavers from our side, but it’s most likely the bodies came from cemeteries swept away by the water,” the paper quoted him as saying.

Procedures to identify the bodies were under way but he did not say exactly how many corpses he was talking about.

The flooding has put additional stress on regions coping with the coronavirus pandemic. The governors of both Liguria and Piedmont have asked the Italian government for emergency aid.

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