PARIS — A French judge handed preliminary charges Saturday to two Germans whose group ran an unauthorized campsite in southern France that was inundated by flash floods, forcing the emergency evacuation of 119 children.
The men, who were not identified by name, were handed preliminary charges of involuntary injury aggravated by endangerment and creating a campsite without a permit, Nimes Prosecutor Eric Maurel said.
The newspaper Le Monde identified the two as the president and vice president of the Jugendförderung Saint-Antonius group, which owned the land where the campsite was located, in the village of Saint-Julien-de-Peyrolas in the Gard region.
The children were rapidly evacuated Thursday as the rivers overflowed their banks. A handful were hospitalized with minor injuries.
The two were placed under judicial supervision and forbidden to visit the Gard region except to appear when summoned by judicial authorities and meet with their lawyers, Maurel said. They were given 15 days to remove their possessions from the site.
Rescuers continued to search for a missing German monitor at the campsite, which was inundated during the flash floods on Thursday that reportedly swept away his van. The children removed from the camp were among 1,600 evacuated, mostly preventatively, in three regions by Thursday evening after torrential rains quickly transformed rivers and streams into torrents.
The campsite in Saint-Julien-de-Peyrolas was in a flood zone. Just 48 hours before the waters suddenly rose, municipal officials had warned the group of the dangers of remaining due to the threat of rising waters, the prosecutor’s office said.