Storms kill woman, wreaks havoc across large parts of France

Storms across large parts of France on Saturday killed one woman, wrought havoc in some vineyards and forced thousands of cub scouts to run for shelter. In contrast, the Mediterranean island of Corsica sweltered in record temperatures for the month of June.

Storms kill woman, wreaks havoc across large parts of France
A storm over a field in Sublaines, central France. Photo: Guillame Souvant/AFP

A woman died after being trapped under a car by flash waters caused by a storm in the northern city of Rouen, the mayor’s office announced.

In the Landes and Gers region of southwest France, hailstones bigger than golf balls crashed down on parts of the Armagnac vineyard, local growers and officials said.

Bernard Malabirade, president of the Gers agriculture department, said the hailstorm had affected tens of thousands of hectares. In the southwest Landes region, wine grower Nelly Lacave described the destruction left in the wake of the storm.

“In the vineyards, there is nothing left, the roof of our agricultural building is a giant Swiss cheese, and in the house, the windows are broken,” she told AFP. “My father, who is almost 70 years old, has never seen this,” she added.

Power company Enedis said Saturday evening the storms had cut off electricity to around 5,000 household across the country.

In Loir-et-Cher, central France, 30,000 scouts who gathered for a camping trip over the Pentecost holiday weekend had to be rushed to safety, many of them inside the local chateau.

“The storm broke at around 4:30 pm,” the scouts’ press spokesman Damien Tardy told AFP. “It lasted for a few minutes, but it was relatively strong, and a gust of wind collapsed the tents of the cub scouts.

READ ALSO: Stormy weather alerts issued in France

“Ten thousand youngsters, aged between eight and 12, were given shelter inside the chateau with the cooperation of the prefecture,” he added.

Some of the older scouts however had stayed out camping. “They were singing when I went over to see them.”

Cap Corse on the north of the island of Corsica, registered 37.4 degrees Celsius (99.3 Fahrenheit), said meteorologists France-Meteo, a record for the month of June.

France-Meteo has warned more storms were on the way, starting in the southwest and moving north and east across the country.

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Ukraine and EVs: What Macron and Biden will discuss in Washington

French leader Emmanuel Macron is in Washington - with several of his ministers - on an official state visit, but some of his discussions with US president Joe Biden could be tricky - here's what the two will talk about.

Ukraine and EVs: What Macron and Biden will discuss in Washington

Macron is hoping his US state visit can produce meaningful concessions for European industry as it smarts from massive US green subsidies – but the chances of a major win look slim, according to a Joe Biden ally, Senator Chris Coons.

Coons, a Democratic Senator for Delaware and leader of the Congressional French Caucus, talked to AFP about the French president’s visit and goals.

President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act offers generous support to US industry, such as subsidies for US-made electric vehicles, batteries and renewable energy projects, as part of a push to address climate change. Can Macron obtain exemptions for European industries to share in the huge US market, including EU-made electric cars?

Sen Coons: “I think this is an important but difficult conversation. We passed in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) the single largest investment in a clean energy transition in the history of the United States, and some would argue the largest investment by any country.”

However, Coons explained, the bill was only barely approved by Congress, and the provision on the manufacturing of electric vehicles in North America was “very important” to Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, whose vote was crucial in passing it.

Still, can France make any inroads on this?

Sen Coons: “It will be a delicate negotiation; my state benefits immensely from French investments.”

Both aircraft manufacturer Dassault Falcon and industrial gas producer Air Liquide are in Delaware.

“It is our hope that we will find a path forward where we will increase technology transfer and foreign direct investment by the United States and American companies in France and by French companies in the United States.

“I’m expecting that this conversation about IRA and subsidies for electric vehicles will be on the agenda for the conversation between our two

“The war in Ukraine will also be discussed by Macron and Biden. Is the United States pushing for a negotiated end?”

Sen Coons: “No. I think it was important that President Zelensky recently indicated of course he is open to negotiating. He laid out the terms, which were the restoration of Ukrainian sovereignty and security guarantees, that strike me as reasonable. “

“If we were to pressure Zelensky into surrendering territory, I don’t see how that would either deter (President Vladimir) Putin, make Ukraine more safe or produce a stable outcome.”