Wednesday 25 April 2018

Hundreds evacuated as Seine bursts its banks

The cafe Les Nautes, in Paris, is partly immersed in the waters of the river Seine Photo: VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images
The cafe Les Nautes, in Paris, is partly immersed in the waters of the river Seine Photo: VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images

Rory Mulholland

Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes along the swollen Seine as the river kept rising after it burst its banks in Paris, engulfing scenic quays and forcing part of the Louvre museum to close to protect its priceless artworks from floodwaters.

The river had reached 5.75 metres at 8pm local time on Saturday, more than four metres above its normal height, and was set to hit a peak last night at around six metres.

Seemingly interminable rains in France over the past couple of weeks caused the river to rise inexorably, leading city authorities to shut down all boat traffic on the Seine in Paris, keeping tourists off the capital's famed sightseeing Bateaux Mouches.

"Due to the spread of flooding to different tributaries, the level of the Seine in Paris will continue rising again at the weekend," said Vigicrues, the national flooding alert agency, noting that the peak would last for about 10 hours before the waters slowly begin to recede.

Several Paris suburbs were already under water on Saturday, forcing some residents to take to boats to get around.

More than 650 people have been evacuated from their homes in the greater Paris region, and flooding has left around 1,400 people without electricity.

Tourists in central Paris took photos of water-covered embankments, as the river rose ever closer to the top of the walls that protect the Louvre, the world's most visited museum, on the right bank, and the Musée d'Orsay on the left bank.

The Louvre took the precaution earlier in the week of closing its Islamic arts wing, which lies on a lower level than the rest of the giant museum and is more at risk of flooding.

The official depth of the Seine in Paris is measured from a point on the Austerlitz. Even after its predicted peak yesterday of around six metres, it will still be below the 6.1 metres reached in floods in 2016, and well below the 8.6 metres hit in record floods in 1910. Drier weather is forecast for the week ahead.

Irish Independent

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