Forest fires leave thousands of passengers stranded across southern France

20 August 2017

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France - Forest fires east of Marseille have left thousands of travellers stranded across southern France, French rail officials and media reported Sunday.

According to a spokesman for the SNCF rail company, around 2,300 travellers had to take shelter overnight at train stations in Marseille, Nice and Toulon. News agency AFP reported that a total of 4,000 people have been affected in the region so far.

French media report that the fire in Aubagne near Marseille has come under control after destroying around 2.4 square kilometres of forest and forcing the evacuation of nearby areas.

"Traffic is gradually returning," regional SNCF manager Jean-Aime Mougenot told local radio, calling on travellers to postpone travel to the region for the time being.

Because of dry weather and strong winds, fires occur frequently in southern France and on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica.