Lourdes Flooding Kills 1, Closes Pilgrimage Sites


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Heavy rains in the southwestern French town of Lourdes have caused massive flooding, closing down a Catholic holy site and killing at least one person.

According to France 24, the flooding has closed down the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, a famous French pilgrimage site for Roman Catholics. The site is sacred to Catholics due to reported sightings of apparitions of the Virgin Mary around the area in 1858. The holy site draws millions of tourists each year, causing Lourdes to have the second greatest number of hotels per square mile in France, just behind Paris.

One 70-year-old woman was reportedly killed in the nearby village of Pierrefitte-Nestalas while trying to exit her car. The vehicle had become caught in the flooding after the Gave de Pau River became overflown.

Some roads in the area have been cut off by water and around 200 people have been evacuated. This is the second year in a row that holy sites in Lourdes have been closed due to flooding.

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes has posted videos to its YouTube account showing the extent of the flooding and the damage the water has caused to the Basilica of St. Pius, a Catholic church at the pilgrimage site:

(Image courtesy Milorad Pavlek under Creative Commons License)

(via France 24)