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Flash flood closes Lourdes shrine for second time in eight months

(June 19, 2013) Flash flooding created by heavy rains forced officials to close the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France on Tuesday.(June 18). Authorities evacuated about 200 people, most of them from campgrounds near the shrine, after water levels rose quickly following heavy rain and unseasonal snowfall in the area a day earlier. The Lourdes grotto, where Mary is reported to have appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous in 1858, was under as much as 5 feet of water, Mathias Terrier, who is in charge of communications at the shrine, told AFP newsagency. He said the nearby Gave de Pau River was flowing about 11 feet above its normal level. Terrier also said the floods posed a greater threat to the shrine than those of last October that caused damage amounting to more than $1 million. "It's very serious, the water is still rising. There is nothing we can do. We just have to wait and cross our fingers and hope. We have taken preventative measures to evacuate everyone," he added.
The Lourdes Shrine officials planned to keep the sanctuary closed on Wednesday (June 19), but said that Mass would be celebrated at the Basilica of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, which is at a safe level..
Source: CNS


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