Emergency services are stepping up their search efforts in the Roya Valley after the storm caused severe flooding on both sides of the French-Italian border.

French authorities have deployed around 1,000 firefighters, four military helicopters and troops to search for at least eight people missing in a mountainous border region with neighboring Italy after devastating floods caused by record rainfall.

The storm moved over southeast France overnight and then hit northern Italy, causing major flooding on both sides of the border.

Rescue workers in Italy recovered two bodies in northern Liguria on Sunday, which they feared would be washed away as a result of the heavy downpours on Saturday.

In France, the storm devastated several villages around the city of Nice on the French Riviera. The nice mayor Christian Estrosi called it the worst flood disaster in the region in more than a century.

“The streets and about 100 houses have been swept away or partially destroyed,” he told French news broadcaster BFM after flying a helicopter over the hardest hit area.

“I was particularly shocked by what I saw today,” French Prime Minister Jean Castex said at a press conference after visiting the affected areas.

Rescue efforts have focused on the Roya Valley, where firefighters hoped to find survivors and help people whose homes were destroyed or inaccessible.

Around 10,500 households remained without electricity, said the French energy company Enedis. France declared the region a natural disaster zone.

Residents clear a street after a landslide in Garessio, Piedmont, after storms hit the region [Vincenzo Pinto/ AFP]In the Italian region of Piedmont, officials in Sambughetto near the border with Switzerland reported record rain of 630 mm (24.8 inches) in just 24 hours. The regional head of Piedmont, Alberto Cirio, called on the government to declare a state of emergency.

The water level in the Po rose by three meters in just 24 hours. Italian firefighters also rescued 25 people trapped on the French side of a high mountain pass due to the flooding.

In Venice, a lengthy flood barrier system successfully protected the lagoon city from flooding for the first time on Saturday and brought great relief after years of repeated floods.

People on a private beach in Nice examine the damage after heavy rainfall [Eric Gaillard/Reuters]

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