Disasters: Nature Takes Her Revenge

Nature Takes Her Revenge

The riverbank campsite in Le Grand-Bornand, France, an Alpine village near the Swiss border, was crowded with holiday travelers on Bastille Day last week. When a violent summer downpour started, many of the 330 French, Dutch and Belgian vacationers took shelter in their trailers and cars. Then suddenly a tidal wave of water and mud cascaded down the river and engulfed the camp area, burying the vehicles and their trapped inhabitants under a mountain of ooze. The devastation killed 23 campers; eight more are still missing.

Forests had been cleared recently on the mountains above Le Grand-Bornand to make ski runs,...