Tornado damage, Arles

Tornado damage, Arles
Several people injured as the tornado leaves southern French town of Arles in destruction.

A tornado has torn through the southern French town of Arles, ripping off roofs and throwing caravans onto their sides.

The swaths of destruction on Tuesday left several people injured and forced 60 people to evacuate from a nearby campsite.

Arles, in the Bouches du Rhone, was one area placed on an orange weather alert by Meteo France on Monday, warning residents of the imminent danger of severe storms.

The storms reached the shores of the Mediterranean early on Monday night, bringing heavy rain to Ardeche, Lozere and the Alpes-Maritimes.

The storm line that swept the west of the country was accompanied by violent gusts of wind, with 113 kilometres per hour (70 miles per hour) recorded in Mayenne and 109km/h (68 miles/h) at Plessis-Belleville, just north of Paris.

Heavy rain accompanied the strong winds, producing localised flooding, with 136mm falling in Barnas in Piedmont Cevennes - two weeks' worth of rain in less than 24 hours.

At the same time, the line of severe thunderstorms produced more than 15,000 lightning strikes.

The severe weather has now cleared France, with more widespread rain and showers to follow throughout Wednesday and Thursday.