France floods: Louvre to close as Seine rises further

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Waters are rising up the Zouave statue in Paris. The 1910 floods reached his shoulders

The world's most visited museum, the Louvre in Paris, is to close on Friday amid worsening flooding caused by days of torrential rain.

The move will allow staff to move works at risk of damage to higher parts of the gallery, a statement said.

The Seine, which runs through Paris past the Louvre, has risen five metres above normal levels.

Heavy rains across Europe have left at least 10 people dead, most of them in Germany.

More downpours are forecast right through the weekend across a band of central Europe from France to Ukraine, with as much as 50mm (2in) of rain falling in some parts in just a few hours.

Transport, tourism hit

Emergency barriers are being put up along the Seine, which burst its banks in places. Its levels are forecast to peak overnight.

Announcing the closure, the Louvre said: "The aim is to move works situated in areas vulnerable to flooding to safety by moving them to higher floors."

Another much-visited attraction, the Musee d'Orsay, shut its doors on Thursday.

Rail operator SNCF announced the closure of the RER C line, which runs alongside the Seine in central Paris from 16:00 local time (14: 00 GMT).

Media caption,
Five people drowned in their own homes, as Dan Johnson reports

About 25,000 people are without power in Paris and central France.

In Nemours, 3,000 people have been evacuated from the town centre.

The town's Loing river, a tributary of the Seine, now has levels not seen since the devastating floods of 1910.

"The centre of town is totally under water. All the businesses have been destroyed," said mayor Valerie Lacroute.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Emergency barriers are being erected and a metro line is closed
Image source, AP
Image caption,
In Nemours, south of Paris, 3,000 people have been evacuated from the town centre
Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Businesses were washed out in Montargis

Gwen Bonpaix, 18, who lives in Montcourt Fromonville, 5km (3.1 miles) from Nemours, told the BBC part of the village was flooded.

"The electricity doesn't work, and we can't use our toilet because the sewers are also getting flooded," she said.

"My home hasn't been flooded yet, but the water has already reached the garden, and it's still raining. We're going to leave before we get stuck here."

Six weeks' worth of rain has fallen in three days in the Loiret department. It submerged roads, forcing drivers to abandon their cars.

Other news from France:

  • Fire services found the body of an 86-year-old woman in her home in Souppes-sur-Loing
  • The French Open tennis tournament could be extended into a third week
  • Floods also cut off the getaway of two shop robbers in the town of Fleury-les-Aubrais. They fled their car and tried to make a swim for it, but were arrested

French President Francois Hollande is to declare a state of natural disaster in areas worst hit by flooding, which will free up emergency funds.

Germany 'mourning'

At least nine people have died in recent days in Germany, while several people are missing.

"We are mourning those for whom help has come too late and who lost their lives in the floods," said Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The worst incident was in Simbach am Inn in Bavaria, southern Germany, where a woman, 78, her daughter, 56, and granddaughter, 28, were all found drowned in the basement of their house.

Another woman, aged 80, was found dead in the nearby village of Julbach, while a 75-year-old man was the latest to be found dead, in Simbach.

Earlier in the week, four people died in floods in southwestern Germany.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
In Bavaria, the waters engulfed streets
Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Days of heavy rain have left at least nine people dead in Germany

Elsewhere in Germany:

  • An emergency was declared in the historic town of Passau
  • In Pfarrkirchen, more than 35mm of rain fell in the space of six hours on Wednesday
  • In the district of Wesel, North Rhine-Westphalia, a dam is threatening to break

Belgium has also seen heavy rainfall and has reported flooding in many areas, including around Antwerp, Limburg and Liege.

Media caption,
Residents were rescued by helicopter and boat in Triftern, Bavaria

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