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Tennis ball-sized hail stones pound French villages

Firefighters said they had found stones as big as tennis balls.
by Staff Writers
Roanne, France (AFP) May 22, 2009
Fist-sized hail stones "like rocks from the sky" smashed roofs and car windows across a 20-kilometre (13-miles) wide strip of central France, witnesses and firefighters said Friday.

The violent 15-minute squall blew up at around nightfall on Thursday after an otherwise pleasant day around Roanne, a small town in central France. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

"I was just feeding the horses when the first hail fell. At first, for about 20 seconds, it was light and scattered, then it was a deluge, like rocks from the sky," said a resident of Pouilly-sous-Charlieu.

"The flowers and orchards were ripped to shreds and some of the cars in the neighbourhood look like they've been worked over with a hammer. Many of them had shattered windscreens," he said.

Firefighters said they had found stones as big as tennis balls.

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