Friday, June 03, 2016

Floods devastate French cities, prompt state of emergency

Due to heavy rainfall across French cities, flood waters have reached alarming level, forcing thousands of people to quit their homes, and plunged Paris' vibrant venues and most visited sites into chaos.

In the French capital, the Seine rose above five meters, forcing the SNCF railway company to close RER C train, an underground commuter line which runs along the river.

According to media reports, the level of the Seine River would reach its peak tonight to 5.6 meters before turning to normal situation. The river reached a record high of 8.60 meters in 1910.

On high risks of floods, Le Louvre Museum closed its doors earlier than scheduled and would remain shut on Friday.

Standing on the banks of the Seine, the Orsay Museum has launched its emergency plan and cancelled activities for the rest of the day.

At a meeting with mayor associations, President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency in the worst affected areas and promised money to help local authorities deal with the flood damage.

Earlier, at a joint press conference with Chilean counterpart Michelle Bachelet, Hollande said "when there are such severe weather phenomenon, we should realise that we must act on the global level."

According to reports, about 21,700 homes are without electricity in Paris and Loiret region with the motorway linking the French capital to the southwestern city of Bordeaux cut by floods. Scores of stranded motorists have been rescued by soldiers.

In Nemours, south of Paris, the most affected city, about 3,000 inhabitants have been evacuated after floods devastated the town center. Footages of local televisions showed firemen resorted to inflatable boats to evacuate people.

"The situation remains tense, difficult in many cities, mainly in the Ile-de-France and especially the departments of Seine-et-Marne and Essonne," French Premier Manuel Valls said.

He added that "the government is mobilized" as fears of floods still exist.

Meteo France, the country's main weather agency, has put Paris region and six other departments on orange alert, the second highest warning level on risk of floods while the Seine et Marne department has been put on red alert.

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