Europe floods: Seine River at highest level since 1982; at least 15 dead

 Europe-floods-Seine-River-at-highest-level-since-1982-at-least-15-dead. PARIS, Rising floodwaters in France set another historic level on Friday, as the Seine River swelled to its highest level in more than three decades.

Europe-floods-Seine-River-at-highest-level-since-1982-at-least-15-dead
The Seine River crests in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, Friday, June 3, 2016. The river has swollen to its highest level in 33 years and forced the closures of the Louvre and Orsay museums, as well as some trains and metros. The flooding was the result of sustained rains throughout France, causing the Seine to rise to over 20 feet by late Friday. Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo

The water level in the river had risen 20 feet above normal by Friday night, officials said, and was expected to go even higher. High water levels are also expected to remain through the weekend.

The all-time record for the Seine is 26.2 feet, reached in 1910, when Paris was flooded for two months.

French officials said the rising waters are also threatening to push for another historic level — forcing some members of the government to switch venues. Emergency plans require that operations at Paris’ Élysée Palace to move to the Château de Vincennes, located east of the city, if waters rise above 21 feet.

Élysée Palace houses the offices of President Francois Hollande and is the site of regular ministry meetings.

“We’re not yet at this stage,” one official told Le Point. “For now, we’re making sure that all plans are ready and that the different measures may be set in motion to ensure the continuation of governmental work.”

Continuing floods pushed the death toll in Western Europe to at least 15 Friday, after days of relentless rainfall — 10 in Germany, two in France, two in Romania and one in Belgium.

More than 22,000 homes were without electricity, and the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay museums closed Friday so employees could transport collections of priceless artwork and antiquities to higher ground.

“Around the Eiffel Tower, the banks are flooded,” French resident Julien Rogard said. “Where we usually can walk, we can’t anymore.”

Emergency barriers were installed along the river, and bridges were closed. Authorities in Paris and around the flood-ravaged region said they are continuing to monitor the situation as it changes, hour-by-hour.

The flooding comes as France deals with a rail strike ceasing operation of 50 percent of the nation’s trains and violent protests against the government’s labor reform law.

The country will also host the Euro 2016 soccer tournament, and the 2016 French Open tennis championships will likely be extended by another week.

The slow-moving weather system forced the evacuation of thousands in towns across Europe, from France to Ukraine, with more rain forecast for the weekend.

Water levels are also rising in southern Germany’s Bavaria state, where three women were discovered drowned in the home’s basement, and 250 children were trapped in their school for a time by rising floodwaters.

By Ed Adamczyk and Doug G. Ware

UPI NEWS