Western France on alert for floods

Paris - The most westerly part of France was placed on a red alert for potential flooding on Thursday as high tides and ferocious storms caused havoc up and down Europe's Atlantic coast.

Finestere, a department of Brittany which juts out into the Ocean, was braced for two of its rivers, the Morlaix and the Laita to burst their banks as a result of heavy rain forecast for Thursday.

Waves crash against the wreck of the Spanish cargo ship Luno that slammed into a jetty on Wednesday in choppy Atlantic Ocean waters and broke in two, off Anglet, in southwestern France. Picture: Bob Edme. Credit: Associated Press

The highest-level warning was issued by Meteo-France shortly after the forecasting agency placed 29 departments from Brittany to the Paris region on a second-tier orange alert for high winds and heavy rain with the potential to bring down trees and power lines and make driving extremely dangerous.

Recent days have seen huge waves, gale-force winds and torrential rains combine to batter sea defences from the Basque country on France's border with Spain up to Devon and Cornwall in the south-west of England.

The storms sent a Spanish cargo ship crashing into a sea wall at the French port of Bayonne on Wednesday, splitting it clean in two.

There has been similar chaos in Britain with the coastal railway line linking Devon and Cornwall having been cut and the safety of dozens of clifftop homes increasingly threatened by coastal erosion caused by the storms.