LONDON  : The French government is to declare a “natural emergency” for areas badly effected by severe storm, which has devastated agricultural land and harvests in southeast of France.

French Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume described the storm as a “catastrophe” for farmers and a rare occurrence in the southeast region during the start of the summer season, according to local media reports.

“It’s catastrophic, I’ve rarely seen scenes like this,” Guillaume told the local BFM television, adding that “it’s unthinkable that farmers would be forced into bankruptcy because of this”.

Nine emergency departments were on standby over the weekend and although the storms were brief, the damage wrought by them was devastating.  The storm affected the Auvergne-Rhone-Alps region where orchards of many fruits are grown and produced. The region is popularly known as the ‘orchard of France’.