French authorities evacuate hundreds in south, lashed by heavy rains

French rescue workers evacuated hundreds of people from parts of southern France as heavy rains lashed the region Tuesday, clogging highways and forcing the shutdown of rail lines.

The downpour pounded the Gard and Herault regions along the Mediterranean coast, prompting authorities to call in more than 300 rescue workers from neighboring regions to help with the evacuation, local officials said.

Half a dozen helicopters were flown in to support a possible rescue effort in the area, which suffered deadly floods in 1998, 2002 and 2003.

The national weather service, Meteo-France, raised its color-coded warning system to the highest level of red for the towns of Montpellier and Nimes and surrounding areas.

Accommodation was made available to travelers and residents, and the national railway operator halted service between the towns of Nimes and Narbonne, officials said. At least 40 regional or national highways were waterlogged and unfit for travel, AP reported.

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