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Nine people die in multiple drownings as stormy weather hits southern France | World news

Nine people have died in multiple drownings off southern France as stormy weather caused dangerous conditions at sea.

Five died Wednesday in Hérault, two in Aude and two in Bouches-du-Rhône.

It comes as the strong wind and rain continue to hit the south of the country.

The victims in the Hérault were between 64 and 73 years old, according to the French channel BFMTV, and bathed on the beaches of Grande-Mott, Agde, Marseillan, Vias and Serignan.

“I cannot understand how people got in the water when the sea is rough. It is a dramatic day for our region,” Vias mayor Jordan Dartier told French media.

Seven rescues were also said to have taken place in the area, which was on orange weather alert on Wednesday.

In neighboring Bouches-du-Rhône, a 58-year-old man died in Cassis and a 71-year-old man in La Ciotat.

The dead in Aude were in the town of Leucate.

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Flash floods in the south of France

Authorities said the drownings could have been caused by hidden currents that can drag swimmers out to sea and leave them too exhausted to make it back to shore.

Herault firefighters said more stormy weather was on the way and warned people to stay out of the sea.

Heavy rains and thunderstorms have caused flooding in the south of France, with a few places last week receiving the equivalent of two months of rain in a matter of hours.

Videos on social media showed torrential rains in the city of Nîmes and flooded streets in Calvisson.