| ||The Loire, 628 miles (1,012 km) long, has its source in the Ardèche in southeastern France and crosses a large portion of the country before reaching the Atlantic Ocean in the west. This waterway, considered the last wild river in France, is subject to an irregular system of floods and low waters of considerable scope. In the summer certain areas of the Loire become narrow trickles that ripple among sandbanks; the shallow waters sometimes reveal subaquatic plants, as seen here near Digoin. In winter its tides can cause major flooding of towns and villages along its banks. In all regions of the world, floods are growing more frequent and more violent than before. From 1980 to 1990, the number of people who were victims of natural catastrophes has raised by 50%. Deforestation, drying of wet zones, alteration of the natural course of earth’s rivers (half of which have at least one large dam), and increasing urbanization, are examples of human actions that contribute to aggravating the consequences of floods.
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