Heavy episodes of flooding in Ornavasso, Italy. (The Associated Press)
France – The grim work of searching for flood victims in Alpine villages and on the coasts of France and Italy has become even more gruesome: along with storm victims, authorities have also found bodies from cemeteries that were washed away by rains.
A total of 12 deaths have been reported since the storm hit the Alpes-Maritimes region of France and the north-western Italian regions of Liguria and Piedmont on Friday: four on the French side, eight on the Italian side.
More than 600 rescuers and other helpers were searching for about 20 people who were still missing on Tuesday, according to a spokeswoman for the Alpes-Maritimes regional administration.
Corpses unearthed from cemeteries have turned up on the Italian side, he told The Associated Press. He could not say how many or where they came from, and it was unclear if the bodies were among the eight reported dead in Italy from the storm. Local Italian authorities could not be immediately reached for comment.
The corpses in the cemetery were in such an advanced state of decomposition that they were clearly distinguishable from recent victims of the storm, the French spokeswoman said.
Local authorities have said that cemeteries in the French cities of Saint-Martin-de-Vesubie and Tende were partially washed away by flooding. The mayor of Tende, Jean-Pierre Vassallo, told Le Parisien newspaper that the town's cemetery “was cut in two” and that the force of the water removed some bodies from the place where they were buried.