Paris under Water

Paris remains on high alert as the swollen river Seine continues to rise, with forecasters saying water levels could stay high this week, especially if France has more rain.

Leaks 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.

The Louvre, Musée d’Orsay and Orangerie museums were on high alert, with the lower level of the Louvre’s Islamic arts wing closed to visitors.

A health centre in the north-western suburbs, where 86 patients were receiving care, had to be evacuated on Friday. In total about 1,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in the greater Paris region, according to police, while 1,500 homes were without electricity.

The river had risen 11cm (4.3in) in 24 hours by Saturday evening, more than four metres above its normal height, causing difficulties for commuters as well as people living near its overflowing banks.

The Vigicrues flooding agency believes the river will continue to rise, peaking at 5.95 metres on Sunday night or Monday, but not quite reaching the 2016 high of 6.1 metres, when the Louvre museum was forced to close its doors for four days.

Joao de Macedo, a janitor at a residential building in Paris’s upscale 16th arrondissement, said: “There are six studios in the basement, and we’ve had to set up blocks outside to keep the windows from breaking and covering everything in water.”

The December-January period is now the third wettest since data collection began in 1900, according to France’s meteorological service.

All boat traffic on the Seine in Paris and upstream has been stopped, including sightseeing boats.

Forecasters said the rainfall in recent days had not been enough to push the Seine beyond their expectations.

“We’ve been reassured, it will keep the water level high but not increase it,” said François Duquesne of Vigicrues, though he warned of the risk of more rain next week.

A main commuter line, the RER C, has halted services at Paris stations, and some key roads alongside the Seine have been closed.

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