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Hundreds of pilgrims evacuated after flooding hits Lourdes

About 50 Irish pilgrims are thought to be among 500 faithful who are being evacuated from hotels.

The famous Grotto in Lourdes, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared in the 19th century, is under five feet of water after intense floods.
The famous Grotto in Lourdes, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared in the 19th century, is under five feet of water after intense floods.
Image: Bob Edme/AP

FRENCH RESCUE SERVICES and police are evacuating hundreds of pilgrims from hotels threatened by floodwaters from a rain-swollen river in the Roman Catholic shrine town of Lourdes.

About 50 Irish pilgrims are thought to be among those who have been evacuated.

A spokesman for the Lourdes sanctuary said the grotto itself was under 1.5 metres (about five feet) of water after the Gave River overran its banks. Visits to the grotto have been temporarily suspended.

Regional government spokesman Anatole Puiseux said about 500 people were being evacuated from riverside hotels, and more rain was forecast for later Saturday.

Lourdes’ grotto is said to be the site where the Virgin Mary appeared to a 14-year-old girl named Bernadette in 1858.

Officials say the town draws about 6 million visitors a year.

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The shrine has special meaning for the suffering, many of whom believe its spring water can heal and even work miracles.

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Associated Press

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