French storms leave at least 9 dead in Mediterranean Sea

At least nine people have drowned in the south of France after swimming in stormy Mediterranean seas.

The swimmers entered the choppy waters on difference beaches along the south coast when they were swept out to sea.

Two people aged 58 and 71 drowned in Cassis and La Ciotat in the Bouches-du-Rhône region, according to French media.

Five people in their 60s and 70s died in Hérault and another two died on a beach in Leucate, Aude.

High winds had caused the seas to swell during rain and thunderstorms on Wednesday.

Dozens of beachgoers were seen crowding around two bodies on the shore in Cassis as large waves crashed against the sand.

It follows a summer of extreme weather for the region which was hit with flash floods, heatwaves and wild fires.

A beach in Cassis (Freddie Marriage / Unsplash)

Those in Hérault had been bathing on the beaches of Grande-Motte, Agde, Marseillan, Serignan and Vias, according to LCI.

Mayor of Vias Jordan Dartier told the French broadcaster: “I cannot understand how people were able to get in the water when the sea is rough. It is a dramatic day for our region.”

Emergency services in Hérault said they tried to save 12 people, of which seven were rescued and five died.

An orange weather alert was then implemented in the area for thunderstorms, floods and rain.

Rescue officials speculated people were tempted by the warm water temperature of around 24 degrees, despite conditions not being ideal.

Firefighter Lieutenant Colonel Aurélien Manenc said: “People are prompted to go swimming. What you don’t see are the underwater currents…

“The water is warm. People think they are going to have fun but they are quickly pulled out to sea and towards the bottom, becoming exhausted when they try to return. This is what leads to drowning.”

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