7 bodies found in northern Italy, France after violent storms

A river floods near La Vesubie in southern France following torrential rains on Saturday. (AP pic)

ROME: Seven bodies were found in a region straddling the French-Italian border near Nice on Sunday after torrential rains swept houses and roads away, officials in both countries said.

Five of the bodies were discovered in northwestern Italy, including four washed up on the shore between the towns of Ventimiglia and Santo Stefano al Mare, near the French frontier.

Some of the corpses might have been swept down the coast from France.

Two more were found in France, including a shepherd found by an Italian search and rescue team.

The other body was found in a vehicle that had been swept away by flash flooding in the village of Saint-Martin-Vesubie.

It brings to nine the total number of people found dead after fierce rains and howling gales lashed the border area on Friday.

French firefighters said another 21 people were missing, eight of them known to be as a direct result of the storm.

The bad weather caused millions of euros of damage, with several road bridges swept away in Italy, and streets in some towns littered with debris, mud and overturned cars.

Officials in the Piedmont region reported a record 630mm of rain in just 24 hours in Sambughetto, near Switzerland – more than half its annual average rainfall.

In Limone Piemonte, a three-storey house was swept off its foundations and into a river.

In the nearby village of Tanaro, floodwaters destroyed the local cemetery, sweeping away dozens of coffins.

In France, almost 1,000 firefighters were drafted into the Alpes-Maritimes region to look for the missing and reestablish communications.

More than two dozen primary and secondary schools in the area are closed until further notice, local authorities said.

Up to 500mm of rain fell in less than 10 hours, a volume not seen since records began, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Saturday.