26 Jul 2017

France wildfires force mass evacuation

8:15 pm on 26 July 2017

Wildfires in south-eastern France have forced the evacuation of 10,000 people overnight, officials say.

Smoke billows above Ramatuelle, southern France as a violent wildfire hit the area.

Smoke billows above Ramatuelle, southern France as a violent wildfire hit the area. Photo: AFP

Hundreds of firefighters have been deployed to battle the fires near Bormes-les-Mimoses, in the country's Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region.

France earlier asked its EU neighbours for more help fighting the fires.

Some 4000 hectares of land have burned along the Mediterranean coast, in the mountainous interior and on the island of Corsica.

"The evacuations, at least 10,000, followed the progression of the fire," a fire official was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

"It's an area that doubles or triples its population in summer," the official added.

One of the worst fires is raging in an area near the popular resort of Saint-Tropez.

In Corsica, hundreds of homes have been evacuated.

Overall, more than 4000 firefighters and troops backed by water bombers have been trying to extinguish the flames since Monday.

At least 12 firefighters have been injured and 15 police officers affected by smoke inhalation, officials say.

Lisa Minot, a British tourist staying in a campsite in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, told the BBC she saw planes scooping up water from the sea and then going back "into the pool of black smoke" on the coast.

Ms Minot said the local authorities had asked holidaymakers to stay on the beach as it was not safe to stay in the campsite.

She added that there were reports that some campsites had already been destroyed by the blazes.


Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs