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The BBC's James Coomarasamy in Paris
"Parts of Ile de la Cite resemble Venice"
 real 28k

Monday, 26 March, 2001, 07:16 GMT 08:16 UK
Hundreds flee French floods
A flooded house near Guipry, Brittany
Dozens of people in Brittany have had to abandon their homes
Heavy rain caused flood waters to rise in France, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people from their homes in Brittany and Normandy.

Western and northern parts of the country continued to face widespread traffic disruption while emergency services remained on high alert.

Seine river, Paris
Roads along the Seine remain under water
In Paris, roads along the Seine remained under water and parts of the central Ile de la Cite resembled Venice.

Although more rain is forecast, the flooding is easing around Lyon and along the Rhone.

Schools were declared closed on Monday in parts of Brittany, where roads were impassable.

Water levels

In the north-west region that was worst hit by a series of severe floods last autumn, water levels reached new highs and some inhabitants faced flooding for the third or fourth time in as many months.

Roads along the Seine in Paris remained closed and the rising river forced dozens of people in the Paris suburb of Yvelines to evacuate their homes.

Alma bridge, Paris
Parts of Paris resembled Venice
Driving along river embankment roads has been impossible since March 15 and, with more rain forecast, city officials predicted on Sunday that water levels in the capital would continue to rise over the next two days.

Only in the region around Lyon and the Rhone river did the situation slowly improve.

Almost 600 homes next to the Rhone remain flooded.

The area has been extremely hard-hit in recent days, with more than a metre of water flooding the centre of several towns.

The floods are the latest to hit France after an unusually mild and rainy winter that has left groundwater reserves at maximum levels across the country.

March rains have reached three times the average level and melting snows are expected to make things worse.

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See also:

21 Mar 01 | Europe
In pictures: France hit by floods
07 Jan 01 | Europe
Europe's warm weather chaos
07 Nov 00 | Europe
Western Europe in eye of storm
07 Nov 00 | UK
Flood dangers increase
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