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Paris museums close doors as Seine peaks

Paris museums close doors as Seine peaks

Paris: Paris' Louvre and Orsay museums shut to remove art treasures from their basements as the swollen River Seine neared its highest level in three decades.

At least 17 people have been killed in floods that have wrought havoc in parts of Europe after days of pounding rain, trapping people in their homes and forcing rescuers to row lifeboats down streets turned into rivers.

Parisians were urged to stay away from the Seine, which has spilled over its banks in places and on Friday rose 6.07 metres (19ft 9ins) above its normal level.

Despite the warning, a crowd gathered on the Pont du Carousel bridge by the Louvre, gawking at the Amazon-like brownish waters below.

Tree-lined riverside walkways -- usually the evening haunt of strolling couples -- were inundated with several feet of eddying water.

Authorities said the river could swell to "perhaps 6.5 metres (21 feet) in a worst-case scenario", comfortably beating a level reached during floods in 1982.

The record remains the 8.68 metres reached during devastating floods in 1910.

A small number of basement flats in the capital began to flood on Friday and the environment ministry warned some residents in areas near the Seine in western Paris might have to be evacuated.

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