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France links fatal floods to global warming - www.smh.com.au

France links fatal floods to global warming

By Jean-Francois Rosnoblet in Marseilles
December 5, 2003

Disaster zone ... an aerial view of the flooded southern French city of Arles. Photo: AFP

Floods that have killed five people and forced 15,000 from their homes in south-eastern France eased around the city of Marseilles yesterday, but the situation remained critical elsewhere.

Concern focused on the wine-growing region further west around the River Herault, whose level continued to rise amid torrential rain and heavy winds early yesterday.

A government minister directly linked the floods to global warming.

"As far as Marseilles and the Rhone Estuary is concerned, we are over the worst. But around the Herault the catastrophe is continuing," the Deputy Foreign Minister, Renaud Muselier, a regional deputy, told France 2 television.

"It seems clear the climate is changing," he said when asked to explain flooding that has ravaged this part of south-east France two years in succession.

In September 2002, the nearby Gard region was hit by similar floods.

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