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Seine Levels Rise as Paris Braces for Floods

Seine Levels Rise as Paris Braces for Floods

Saturday, 27 January, 2018 - 12:30
View of the flooded river-side of the River Seine near the Eiffel tower in Paris, France. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

The French capital was on alert Saturday as the levels of the rain-swollen Seine River continued to rise with forecasters expecting the flooding to peak at the end of the weekend.

The river reached 5.7 meters at 9:00 am on Saturday, more than four meters above its normal height, causing headaches for commuters as well as people living near its overflowing banks.

Forecasters believe it will continue to rise, peaking on Sunday night or Monday, but will not reach the 2016 high of 6.1 meters, when the Louvre museum was forced to close its doors for four days.

But the world's most visited museum was on high alert on Saturday, along with the Musee d'Orsay and Orangerie galleries, with the lower level of the Louvre's Islamic arts wing closed to visitors.

Leaks had started to appear in some basements on Friday, while some residents on the city's outskirts were forced to travel by boat through waterlogged streets.

In total more than 650 people have been evacuated from their homes in the Paris region, according to police, while more than 1,400 were without electricity.

The government’s Vigicrues flooding monitoring agency scaled back its peak predictions for the river in the capital, saying it will top out at 5.9 to 6 meters on Sunday evening at the earliest, compared with 6.2 meters previously.

In Paris the Seine flows through a deep channel, limiting the potential flooding damage to riverside structures.

But several areas on the city's outskirts are under water, such as the southern suburb of Villeneuve-Saint-Georges, where some residents were getting around by boat and dozens have been evacuated from their homes.

In the south of France, heavy rains caused a breach in the water supply pipe of a holding tank on an oil platform in La Mede, near Marseille, on Saturday, French giant Total said.

Contaminated water, not concentrated crude oil, had leaked, Total said in a statement.

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