Beachgoers Scatter as Freak Winds Hit French Resorts

Several French resorts along the Normandy coast were hit by sudden powerful winds on June 18, resulting in the death of a kitesurfer who was thrown through a restaurant window, and injuries to dozens.

Omar Zaki was enjoying a day at the beach when the weather took a turn for the worse without warning. He recorded video here as the powerful winds kicked up sand and sent people running in panic from the beach at Deauville.

Similar scenes were seen at other beaches along the Cote Fleurie, local news said, as a mass of cool sea air mixed with the warm air locally, where temperatures had reached 30 degrees Celsius.

“The wind picked up without a warning,” Zaki told Storyful. “It was very difficult to see anything without glasses. Kids were getting lost, and visibility had dropped because of the sand.”

He added: “I saw a policeman running with five or six children holding hands who had probably lost their parents. Flying objects were impossible to avoid because you just couldn’t check which direction they were coming from. A lot of people were crying, especially women and children.”

According to Zaki, “The sand was like a whip and it was getting everywhere.”

The sudden storm started around 8:30 pm, local officials and news outlets said, and lasted approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

The mayor of the commune Villers-sur-Mer, which is seven kilometers away from Deauville and where the kitesurfer was killed, said on Facebook on June 19 that a “crisis cell” was set up. Credit: Omar Zaki via Storyful

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