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More rain hits southern France as death toll rises to 25

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Deadly floods hit southern France
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rescue operation officially ends after fatal flash floods
  • Death toll rises to 25, authorities say
  • 110,000 homes without power; 20,000 without phones
  • Flooded area includes popular tourist destination Cote d'Azur

Paris, France (CNN) -- The death toll from flash flooding in southern France rose to 25 Thursday as rain continued to inundate the region, authorities said.

Up to 20 millimeters (0.8 inches) of rain fell in some areas overnight, the Var prefecture said in a statement. Despite the additional rain, most of the flood waters have begun to recede and cleanup has begun.

Some 104,000 homes were without electricity across the region, and 20,000 homes were without phone connections, the 10prefecture said.

Rescue operations officially ended Thursday and authorities were focusing on the distribution of food and water,clearing debris and assisting residents of Draguignan, which was hardest hit, authorities said. The city is about 27 miles west of Cannes.

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Floods in Southern France
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Authorities warned residents not to drink water that appears or tastes unusual. They were distributing tens of thousands of bottles of water, along with meals, in the Draguignan area, the prefecture said.

More local thunderstorms were forecast for Thursday afternoon and evening, the prefecture said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy was expected to visit the stricken areas next week, authorities said.

The flooding, which began Tuesday, forced 2,000 people into shelters, officials said Thursday. Some 1,200 firefighters and 650 police officers have taken part in the rescue effort, the prefecture said. More than 1,400 people have been rescued by helicopter and 100 have been rescued by boat.

The flooding also forced French authorities to transfer more than 400 inmates at Draguignan prison to other prisons in the south of France.

Var includes the Cote d'Azur, a popular tourist destination along the French Riviera.

CNN's Jim Bittermann, Saskya Vandoorne and Pat Thompson contributed to this report.

 
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