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Black Sunday: 7 killed, as powerful winds lash coastal beaches of France
Seven people died yesterday on a series of beaches in the south of France which are hugely popular with British tourists
28 July, 2013
High winds which reached speeds of up to 80mph and unpredictable currents were blamed for the so-called ‘Black Sunday’ in the Herault department, which is on the Mediterranean coast.
At least three other people were tonight in a ‘serious condition’ after escaping from the sea.
Like the deceased, they had been enjoying high summer temperatures on the beaches of Palavas-les-Flots, Carnon, La Grande-Motte, Valras and Vendres.
‘Conditions were hugely treacherous, yet many people did not seem aware of this,’ said a spokesman for the local lifeguards.
‘Swimmers who ventured out too far found themselves swept further out by high winds and big waves.’
Four of the victims died on the beaches, at sea or inland after resuscitation attempts failed, while three others died in hospital. None have yet been named, and no nationalities are yet available.
‘People have been venturing into the sea and never returning,’ said a spokesman for the emergency services in Vendre.
‘We get bad days every summer, but what happened today is absolutely exceptional. It has been a terrible day.’
The spokesman said ‘dozens’ of successful rescues were also carried out following emergency calls.
The body of 16-year-old Kieran Knight, a British swimmer who disappeared off the southwest coast of France last Wednesday was found on Saturday.
It was found by a fisherman close to Messanges Beach, south of Bordeaux, where Kieran had been swimming with his father.
The teenager was apparently caught by a strong undercurrent and was unable to get back to shore