15,000 scouts evacuated in France as storm hits camp

Strasbourg: Around 15,000 teenaged scouts from all over Europe had to be evacuated from a camp in France in the early hours today after a violent storm hit the area.

Scouts and Guides France, which organised the jamboree in the northeastern city of Strasbourg, said 15 of the children had suffered “sprains, fractures or dislocations,” but that there were no serious injuries.

The fire and rescue service in France’s Bas-Rhin region had earlier said 35 people had been “very lightly injured” during the storm, which forced organisers to evacuate the thousands of children in the middle of the night.

Organisers said the 15,000 youngsters, mostly aged between 14 and 17 and hailing from across Europe, were taken to a nearby theatre for shelter.

“There was no panic as we had been warned about the storm’s arrival half an hour before,” organisers said, adding that the scouts and guides were able to return to their tents later today morning.

The regional L’Alsace newspaper showed pictures of many of the teens walking barefoot and wrapped in blankets and said the parents of the children had been informed about the storm and reassured.

Authorities had issued an alert around 2:00 am warning of a severe storm and strong winds in the French city on the border with Germany.

Most of the injuries were caused by falling tent posts, one of the organisers said, but added that the main marquees had not collapsed.

The children were moved to a nearby auditorium for the night and were provided with bedding, water and a light snack and a hot breakfast in the morning.

“From 4;30 in the morning, the organisers began operations to refurbish the camp to allow the youths to return to their tents in the morning,” the prefecture of the Bas-Rhin region said in a statement.

The camp’s normal activities were due to resume soon with the jamboree winding up on Thursday.