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Rescuers among 5 dead in storms on French Riviera

PARIS (AP) — A helicopter crash killed three French rescuers on a mission to save people trapped by floods, and two others were also killed in in heavy rains that pounded France’s Mediterranean coast in a second week of deadly flooding in the region.

Authorities are searching for another person who went missing in Provence during the weekend storm, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told reporters Monday at the scene of the helicopter crash. Brown floodwaters continued to gush down streets Monday in towns around the picturesque region, blocking vehicles and complicating cleanup efforts.

The helicopter that crashed had carried out 13 rescue missions Sunday and was being diverted to another storm-slammed area, near the inland town of Le Luc, when it lost radio contact, Castaner said. Emergency teams found the bodies of the three men aboard early Monday near the port city Marseille, and the wreckage was spotted nearby. An investigation is underway.

Two other people were killed in the storm, according to local authorities: a stable owner whose vehicle was swept away by floodwater as he tried to check on his horses, and a sheep farmer trying to gather his flock.

Six people were killed in flooding around France’s Mediterranean coast a week ago. Expressing condolences for those killed in both storms, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe noted the “growing regularity and intensity” of extreme weather events.

Arriving at crucial U.N. climate talks in Madrid on Monday, Philippe said that “many see, and rightly so, the signs of climate change in this, and signs of the threats that are weighing on the populations of France and the world. Anyone who ignores these signs ... is making a profound mistake.”

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