Europe

France wildfires force mass evacuation

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Media caption"We're still not out of the woods yet" - tourist who witnessed the wildfires

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

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

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

Some 4,000 hectares (15.4 sq miles) 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.

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Image caption At least 10,000 people have been evacuated after wildfires swept through south-eastern France
Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Some 4,000 hectares (15.4 sq miles) of land have burned along the Mediterranean coast

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 4,000 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.

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Image caption Water bombers have been deployed to battle the fires
Image copyright AFP
Image caption More than 4,000 firefighters have been deployed

Lisa Minot, a British tourist staying in a campsite near St-Tropez, told the BBC that all tourists were evacuated at about 02:00 local time (00:00 GMT) and spent the night on the beach as it was not safe to stay in the wooded campsite.

She said that as many as 3,000 people - including tourists from other campsites - ended up staying on the beach in cold winds.

"People are just very tired," Ms Minot said, adding that there very young children among the evacuees.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Water bombers have been tackling the blaze since Monday
Image copyright AFP
Image caption These homes came close to being destroyed

She said she saw planes scooping up water from the sea and then going back "into the pool of black smoke" on the coast.

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

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