Floods cause havoc in Lourdes

Floods in south-west France have forced the closure of the Catholic pilgrimage site in Lourdes and the evacuation of visitors from nearby hotels.

Water swirled around the grotto where nearly six million believers from around the world, many gravely ill, come every year seeking miracles and healing.

It has been a major pilgrimage site since a French girl’s vision of the Virgin Mary there in 1858.

Lourdes Mayor Jean-Pierre Artiganave said that the site will not reopen until safety can be assured. Rescue services are evacuating hundreds of people from nearby hotels.

Heavy rains around the region inundated town centres and prompted road closures.

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