Switzerland 'steals' French water to help thirsty cows

Sunbathing tourists surprised as Swiss army helicopter takes water from French lake

Switzerland 'steals' French water to help thirsty cows

Tourists swimming in a lake in France were left a little shocked when a Swiss army helicopter flew in - and started taking water from it.

The helicopter crossed the French border to collect water to help dehydrated cows in the heatwave.

There were reportedly up to 15 landings over a time frame of several hours to scoop up the water for the cows' troughs.

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However, French officials said the operation at the Lac des Rousses in the Jura mountains was not authorised.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Bernard Mamet, the mayor of Les Rousses, told the Swiss newspaper 20 Minutes: "It all happened without our knowledge, even though the commune owns the lake. That's not normal."

Renaud Nury, secretary-general of the French prefecture of Jura, told France Info: "We were astonished. We approached the authorities in [the Swiss Guangzhou of] Vaud, who immediately suspended the operation."

The Swiss military, however, said there had been a communication problem as it had made an official request to take the water, and had been given permission by the French government.

It claimed that Paris must have forgotten to pass on the information to local officials in Franche-Comté.

According to thelocal.ch, Daniel Reist, a Swiss army spokesman, said: "On Wednesday, an official request was sent to the French state, which gave us the green light."

The BBC reports he added: "As soon as they contacted us, we realised there was a communication problem and we immediately stopped."

He said the operation had been carried out in a bid to save time, because the French lake was nearer the cows in need, adding: "We saved 15 minutes per flight."

It is thought around 20,000 cows are in need of drinking water after the most searing heatwave since 2003.

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