21 Oct 2012

Flooding in Lourdes

11:06 am on 21 October 2012

Floods caused by days of rain in south-west France have forced the closure of most of Lourdes and the evacuation of more than 450 pilgrims. The flooding is the worst in 25 years.

Buses ferried guests from all the hotels in the lower town to a conference centre and a sports complex.

Two campsites were also evacuated on Saturday and several roads closed around Lourdes as the Gave de Pau rive burst its banks.

AFP reports the rain has been falling since Thursday.

Only the basilica, built on higher ground, was still accessible on Saturday.

The ABC reports the sanctuaries are not expected to reopen before Tuesday or Wednesday.

Lourdes is famous for a vision of the Virgin Mary seen by a peasant girl in a cave in 1858. Many people suffering illness or infirmity claim to have been miraculously cured by spring water there.

There were more than six million visitors last year.