By Muhammad Mussa
LONDON (AA) - The French government is to declare a “natural emergency” for areas badly effected by severe storm, which has devastated agricultural land and harvests in southeast of France.
French Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume described the storm as a "catastrophe" for farmers and a rare occurrence in the southeast region during the start of the summer season, according to local media reports.
"It's catastrophic, I've rarely seen scenes like this," Guillaume told the local BFM television, adding that “it’s unthinkable that farmers would be forced into bankruptcy because of this”.
Nine emergency departments were on standby over the weekend and although the storms were brief, the damage wrought by them was devastating.
The storm affected the Auvergne-Rhone-Alps region where orchards of many fruits are grown and produced. The region is popularly known as the ‘orchard of France’.
Farmers affected in the region by the storm have been left with destroyed harvests after hailstones the size of ping-pong balls battered farmland, destroying crops and other vital agricultural resources.
Gregory Chardon, a local apricot, cherry and peach farmer told news outlet The Local that “the damage is enormous and widely spread" and that his entire harvest is destroyed.
Aurelien Esprit, another apricot and apple farmer in the neighboring village of Pont-de-L’Isere, said that his apricot and apple orchards have been destroyed. "Unfortunately the season ended for us last night. I don't think I'm going to make it this time,” he said.
In the town of Romas-Sur-Isere, where the epicentre of the storm was located, streets were left abandoned as raging torrents blasted buildings and shop fronts and hail stones shattered car windscreens and damaged the roofs of many homes including that of a gymnasium.
The violent storm has claimed the lives of two people, including a 51-year-old German tourist who was killed after a tree fell on her camping van during the storm. Rescue workers responded to hundreds of calls and officials reported that 10 people have been injured.
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France to declare 'emergency' after deadly storm
By Muhammad Mussa