French storms: 9 drown in rough Mediterranean sea

Mediterranean sea
Mediterranean sea

Nine people died one day after drowning in choppy Mediterranean seas in the south of France, say authorities.

The victims were all swept out to sea while they were swimming in waters which had been stirred up by a combination of storms and high winds.

The incidents occurred at five beaches in Hérault, two beaches in the Bouches-du-Rhône area, in the south west of France and at two beaches in the Aude region.

Five persons, in their 60s and 70s, died at Hérault, while two men aged 58 and 71 drowned in Bouches-du-Rhône. Another two men between 65 and 80 drowned at Leucate, in the Aude.

Hérault’s emergency services attempted to rescue 12 people who were drowning off beaches at Agde, La Grande-Motte, Marseillan, Serignan and Vias. Seven of these people were rescued but five died.

People were urged to avoid swimming due to the rough waters, with Hérault’s fire and rescue service tweeting: “Choppy seas are making water activities dangerous,” in a bid to discourage swimmers from entering the sea. In a later tweet, they also called on people to avoid swimming on Thursday.

A further two swimmers were dragged out to sea and drowned off beaches at Cassis and La Ciotat in the Bouches-du-Rhône, reported local media.

Meanwhile, an 80-year-old man was dragged out to sea by the swell at Leucate beach and a 64-year-old man drowned at Franqui beach, according to France Bleu.

Local newspaper Midi Libre called the day a “black day”, writing: “Wednesday 15 September will remain a black day for the Hérault coast.”