Floods cause havoc in Lourdes

Mullingar pilgrims remain close to the Shrine of Our Lady in Lourdes as news comes through of devastating floods in the south of Frances.

Authorities evacuated around 200 people, most of them from camping grounds near the shrines, as water swirled up to five feet deep in Lourdes Grotto, where nearly six million pilgrims from around the world visit each year.

Heavy rain and snowfall swept across southwestern France earlier this week.

The Limerick diocesan pilgrimage, which was due to travel to Lourdes this week, was cancelled as a result.

A 70-year-old woman drowned in an attempt to leaver her car in the village of Pierrefitte-Nestalas on Tuesday night, while it has also been reported that a 75-year-old man died yesterday in Luz-Saint-Sauveur.

Mathias Terrier, who is in charge of communications at the Lourdes Shrine, said that the floods pose a greater threat to the grotto than those of last October, when more than £1.5 million of damage was caused to the shrine.

"It's very serious, the water is still rising," he said. "There is nothing we can do. We just have to wait and cross our fingers and hope.

"We have taken preventative measures to evacuate everyone. At the moment, we are most concerned with trying to re-house people and once that is done we will look at any damage caused. People are the priority at the moment."



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