240 French towns battle floods as 1,500 people evacuated

Road and schools closed, boat traffic halted as river swells from weeks of heavy rains

A ticket booth for sightseeing boats is partly submerged by the River Seine after days of almost non-stop rain caused flooding in the country, in Paris. Photograph /Mal Langsdon

A ticket booth for sightseeing boats is partly submerged by the River Seine after days of almost non-stop rain caused flooding in the country, in Paris. Photograph /Mal Langsdon

 

More than 200 French towns are struggling against floodwaters that have halted boat traffic in Paris, closed roads and schools and prompted the evacuation of hospitals.

Swollen by weeks of heavy rains, the Seine River is expected to reach its peak in the French capital late on Sunday or early Monday.

Paris regional authorities say the floods have already caused damage in 240 towns while nearly 1,500 people have been evacuated from homes in the Paris region.

Michel Delpuech, head of the Paris police body, told reporters that around 1,500 people had been moved out of homes in the Ile de France region comprising the French capital and its suburbs.

“The waters will only go away slowly,” added Mr Delpuech.

The overflowing waters have already engulfed riverside walkways in Paris and led the world-famous Louvre museum to close a basement display of Islamic art.

Café ‘Les Nautes’ in Paris partly immersed in the the water of the Seine river. Photograph: Geoffrey van der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images
Café ‘Les Nautes’ in Paris partly immersed in the the water of the Seine river. Photograph: Geoffrey van der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images

Paris’s “Bateaux Mouches” tourist boats have been shut down due to the high waters while swans have been seen swimming where there are usually pavements and rats forced up onto the streets. Police fined people who took a canoe into the Seine in central Paris, and sternly ordered others in a tweet against such actions, calling them “totally irresponsible”.

Flooding caused destruction in Paris in 1910 when the Seine rose by 8.65 metres, although no deaths were recorded there.

In Villennes-sur-Seine west of Paris, the ground floor of some buildings has disappeared underwater and residents are using boats instead of cars.–PA and Reuters