French floods claim first victim, Lourdes remains closed
More News from Agence France-Presse
TOULOUSE — Flash floods in southwestern France killed an elderly woman as the inundated grotto at the Roman Catholic pilgrimage site of Lourdes remained closed for a second day on Wednesday.
The woman in her 70s was washed away overnight by the floodwaters after getting out of her submerged car at Saint Beat near Lourdes, the local prefecture said in a statement. Her husband was rescued by firefighters.
About 2,000 people in the region were evacuated, some of them by helicopter. A bridge at Saint-Laurent-de-Neste was washed away by a tributary of the Garonne river.
The shrine at Lourdes, where the Virgin Mary reportedly appeared to a peasant girl in 1858 and whose water many believe has curative powers, remained closed on Wednesday.
Tourists in the town were relocated from hotels bordering the Gave de Pau to an area on higher ground.
On Tuesday afternoon, there was already 1.40 meters (4.5 feet) of water in the Lourdes cave and the Gave de Pau river nearby was 3.50 metres above its normal level.
The French interior and ecology ministers were due to visit Lourdes later Wednesday to assess the damage in the area, home to 22 shrines.
In 2012, the Lourdes shrines were closed after flash floods that caused hundreds of thousands of euros in damage.
But rivers in the region were now gradually returning to their normal levels.
“The waters are abating. We have seen a steady decrease through the night,” an official from the prefecture of the Haute-Pyrenees region told AFP.
Lourdes attracts millions of visitors every year. The Catholic church recognizes 68 miracles linked to it and many disabled or sick people go there to pray for a cure.
Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:
Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94