Severely corroded sea walls dating back to the time of Napoleon are being blamed for the deaths of at least 50 people in violent storms that ravaged the western coast of France. “In a growing scandal, those left homeless by the disaster on the western coast said proper Atlantic defences could have saved everybody. ‘The sea was being held back by puny walls which were hundreds of years old,’ said a Gilles Aucoin, who lives near the town of L'Aiguillon-sur-Mer. ‘Massive waves were able to crash through our streets and drown people. This should have been predicted a long time ago and dealt with by proper town planning. A mobile home park was near one of the sea walls and that’s where a lot of people drowned.’ President Nicolas Sarkozy, who visited L'Aiguillon today, pledged almost £3 million in emergency aid. ‘It is a national disaster, a human drama with a terrible death toll,’ said Mr Sarkozy, who refused to be drawn into an argument about the defences, saying ‘I don’t want to get involved in a polemic’. Mr Sarkozy added: The urgent thing is to support the families who have members missing or dead.’”