Three elderly people drowned when their retirement home near the city of Antibes was inundated with floodwater, the BBC reported. Three other people died when their vehicle was swept away by flood water in Vallauris-Golfe-Juan.
President Francois Hollande toured the region, where he said a state of natural catastrophe would be declared Wednesday to allow emergency funds to be channelled to the devastated region.
Speaking on a visit to Japan, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Mr. Hollande and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve were en route to the disaster zone.
Violent storms, accompanied with torrential rains, lashed south-eastern France over the weekend.
The president’s comments were made in a meeting with emergency workers at a flooded retirement home in the town of Biot – where three people lost their lives, the AP said.
A representative of the French-Alpes Maritime region police told CNN on Monday that 19 people are confirmed dead and two missing as a result of flooding. He also thanked rescuers for their work so far and offered condolences to the families affected.
According to the BBC, the Brague River overflowed its banks, sending water into nearby towns and cities, including Cannes. “We have rescued a lot of people, and we must now be vigilant against looting”, he added, according to AFP.
Thousands of homes were still without electricity on Sunday afternoon after as many as 70,000 suffered blackouts the previous evening, power network operator ERDF said.
A few residents criticized authorities for not doing more to prevent flood damage in the region, which is prized by tourists and residents for its mild year-round climate but which has seen increasing flooding in recent years.
On Saturday night the city of Cannes – the normally glamorous venue for the celebrated film festival – registered 17cm of rain in just two hours.
John Canavan was in Cannes as the flood hit and said: “It was slow in the beginning and, in an instant, it was ten times worse”.
The flooding also disrupted a French league soccer match in Nice, forcing the stadium to be closed down in the middle of play.