Paris river continues to rise as the city braces for evacuation


The swollen Seine River continues to rise, spilling into Paris streets and forcing one landmark after another to shut down, as it surged to its highest levels in nearly 35 years.

Across the French capital, museums, parks and cemeteries are being closed as the city braces for possible evacuations.

The Seine is expected to peak in Paris later on Friday at about five metres above normal.

Nearly a week of heavy rain has led to serious flooding across a swathe of Europe, leaving 15 people dead and others missing.

A flooded Paris
(Thibault Camus/AP)

Although the rain has tapered off in some areas, flood waters are still climbing. Traffic in the French capital ground to a halt as flooding blocked roads and several Paris railway stations shut down.

Basements and homes in the capital's affluent 16th district began to flood on Friday afternoon as the river kept rising, and authorities were preparing possible evacuations in a park and islands on Paris's western edge.

Musee de Louvre
(Markus Schreiber/AP)

At the Louvre, home to Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, curators were scrambling to move some 250,000 artworks from basement storage areas at risk of flooding to safer areas upstairs.

The museum said it had not taken such precautions in its modern history - since its 1993 renovation at the very least. Disappointed tourists were being turned away.

In addition to the Louvre, the Orsay museum, home to a renowned collection of impressionist art on the left bank of the Seine, was also closed on Friday to prepare for possible flooding. The Grand Palais, which draws 2.5 million visitors a year, was also shut down. The closures are highly unusual.