French authorities have declared the Marseilles region a disaster area following torrential rain which has caused flash floods and resulted in the deaths of up to five people.

The rain, which is expected to reach its peak today, started on Monday and has caused the closure of two nuclear power plants, mass evacuations and the cutting of road and rail links.

The French cabinet had a crisis meeting last night, and the regional governor in Marseilles said his emergency services were on a war footing.