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Flash floods in France kill at least 17 people

An abandoned car is submerged in deep water near by an underpass in Mandelieu

Four people were still missing on Monday after flash floods on the French Riviera killed at least 17 people over the weekend, prompting the government to declare a natural disaster in the southeastern tourist region.

Some 5,000 homes were still without electricity on Monday morning after as many as 70,000 suffered blackouts the previous evening.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who visited the affected zone on Sunday with President Francois Hollande, told Europe 1 radio on Monday there had been some looting and nine people had been arrested.

“Police intervened very quickly to stop these despicable acts,” he said.

Some 300 police and 543 fire officers were still carrying out search and rescue operations across areas affected by the floods, Cazeneuve said.

Torrential rain struck the Alpes-Maritimes administrative department, bordering Italy, on Saturday evening, flooding local towns including Cannes and disrupting transport routes.

The victims included three people killed at a retirement home that was flooded in the village of Biot, and seven inhabitants of the town of Mandelieu-la-Napoule who had attempted to reach their cars in a garage, local government officials said.

Local rail services resumed on Sunday after being suspended overnight. Train services were expected to remain limited for the rest of Monday, while some roads remained blocked.

President Francois Hollande said on Sunday the government would approve natural disaster status for the area at Wednesday’s cabinet meeting and pledged relief payments to help cover damage within three months.

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