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Dublin: 17 °C Friday 3 July, 2020
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Lourdes evacuated as French flash floods claim first victim

The pilgrimage site has been closed and some 2,000 people evacuated from the region.

The grotto at Lourdes
The grotto at Lourdes
Image: Bob Edme/AP/Press Association Images

AN ELDERLY WOMAN his been killed following flash floods in southwestern France that also forced the closure of the grotto at Lourdes.

The woman in her 70s was washed away overnight by the floodwaters after getting out of her submerged car at Saint Beat, according to local officials. Her husband was rescued by firefighters.

About 2,000 people have been evacuated from the region, some by helicopter.

The shrine at Lourdes, where the Virgin Mary reportedly appeared to a peasant girl in 1858 and whose waters many believe to have curative powers, remained closed for a second day.

Tourists in the town were relocated from hotels bordering the Gave de Pau river to an area on higher ground.

Men clean the streets after floods in Lourdes (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

The French interior and ecology ministers are due to visit Lourdes later today 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.

Lourdes attracts millions of visitors every year, including thousands from Ireland.

The Catholic church recognises 68 miracles linked to it, and many disabled or sick people go there to pray for a cure.

Read: 50 years ago, Dublin was hit by the worst thunderstorms ever >

Read: Irish Coastguard urges people to ‘stay safe’ >

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