Three more bodies have been discovered on the French side of the border with Italy after severe mountain flooding ravaged parts of both countries, leaving at least 12 dead.
Hundreds of rescue workers are searching for up to 20 other people who are still missing.
Flooding devastated mountainous areas in France’s south-eastern Alpes-Maritimes region and Italy’s north-western regions of Liguria and Piedmont, after a storm swept through on Friday and Saturday.
The prefect of Alpes-Maritimes told the Nice Matin newspaper that some bodies found in Italy were apparently from coffins that had been swept across the border by the raging water.
Bernard Gonzalez said on Monday afternoon that two more bodies had been found in the region after another was found on Sunday in the hard-hit town of Saint-Martin-Vesubie. Another body was later found in the same town, he said later, bringing the total on the French side to four.
In Italy, a woman’s body was discovered on Monday in the Mediterranean Sea by the Ligurian province of Imperia. Five other bodies, all men, were found on Sunday in the sea near San Remo, on the beach in the Italian border town of Ventimiglia and along the Imperia coast.
Mr Gonzalez said he had been in touch with Italian colleagues about bodies found on the beaches of Liguria.
“The bodies found correspond to decomposing cadavers from our side… but it’s most likely the bodies came from cemeteries swept away by the water,” the paper quoted him as saying.
Efforts to identify the bodies were under way but he did not say how many corpses he was talking about.
Even cows were not spared from the powerful floodwater rushing south from the hills. A dead cow washed up on a beach in the French Riviera town of Saint-Laurent du Var.
In France, firefighters are still searching for at least eight missing people who witnesses described as possibly being carried off by floodwater. They included two firefighters whose vehicle fell into the water as a road collapsed.
French rescuers are also seeking to locate 12 other people whose families have not heard of them since the storm, which blocked roads and cut off communications.
Authorities also found the body of a shepherd who had disappeared in the mountains. A firefighter died in the border region of Valle d’Aosta.
The flooding has put additional stress on regions coping with the coronavirus pandemic. The governors of Liguria and Piedmont have asked the Italian government for emergency aid.