poplava paris floods seine river.jpg
Photograph: EPA/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON

Paris' flooded central river has reached its peak, but it might be a while until the Seine and its surroundings return to normal, Mayor Anne Hidalgo said Saturday after a crisis meeting with city officials.

Heavy rains last week, which have since tapered off, caused the river to rise to its highest point in more than 30 years. The floods caused some 20,000 evacuations around the Paris region. Prime Minister Manuel Valls said four people had died and 24 were injured across the areas of France affected by the floods.

The Seine reached its zenith on Friday, when its waters hit 6.1 metres above usual levels. While no one has been seriously injured, officials said rescue operations have responded to requests for help from hundreds of onlookers who got too close to the swirling waters.

Transportation networks were interrupted, with at least two rail and metro stations closed near the river and roads blocked off. Many of the city's famous museums were also closed, including the Louvre. Workers had to move masterpieces to higher ground.

Some rains are still forecast for the next few days, Hidalgo said, but they are not forecast to be heavy enough to make a difference to river levels, which she said are expected to settle at 6.05 metres.

Hidalgo and other officials could not say when they expect the waters to begin going down. Valls, speaking to journalists after a government meeting on Saturday, said the waters were receding "slowly but steadily," and said that it would take many days for them to reach a normal level.

He added that the government planned to hold a number of meetings on the floods at the beginning of the week, adding that the Economics Ministry would, "pay special attention to the economic damage, concerning the commercial or industrial activity that could have been hit by these floods."

Several riverside business were affected by the high waters. Hidalgo pointed out boat tour company Bateaux Mouche and the numerous floating cafes and restaurants that line the banks. Many parks and gardens remained shut, Hidalgo said that the city was assessing the stability of trees in rain-sodden ground.

The biggest challenges for Paris during the days and weeks, Hidalgo said, was the maintenance of underground infrastructures near the river.

The water covered riverside promenades and reached the bottom branches of trees planted alongside the lower embankments. Numerous offices and apartment buildings near the river saw their cellars and basements affected by the rising waters.

Boat traffic along the river was restricted to emergency services, whose small boats barely fit under the arches of the bridges that cross the Seine.

"It's true that the Seine, overflowing its banks, is something spectacular and everyone wants to see this historic moment ... but there is a real danger, and the current is very strong," Hidalgo said, warning Parisians and visitors to be prudent when they go to see the swollen river.

Latest news

Germany's record surplus sets off debate about using extra cash

Germany's budget surplus continued to grow last year, reaching its highest level since the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990 and setting off a debate about what to do with the extra cash.

Croatian PM says gov't has no influence on appointment of Podravka managers

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Thursday the appointment of new management board members in the Podravka food company was in the remit of the supervisory board and that neither he nor the ministers had any influence on talks at the supervisory board.

Australian archbishops call abuse probe a 'catastrophic failure'

The Australian Catholic Church's handling of a child sex abuse scandal has been a "catastrophic failure" and amounted to "criminal negligence," blasted the country's archbishops Thursday.

WHO: More than 300 million suffer from depression as world ages

The global number of people with depression has risen by 18 per cent to 322 million in the past decade, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday, demanding greater attention for high-risk groups.

Ukrainian lawmaker, vocal critic of Russian government, abducted

Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksiy Honcharenko, an adamant critic of the Russian government, has been abducted by a "group of unknown people," state media reported Thursday, quoting the Odessa regional prosecutors office.

Australian ex-PM slams Netanyahu for 'torpedoing' peace process

Former Australian premier Kevin Rudd has accused Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu of "torpedoing" peace negotiations in the Middle East.

Weekly "Novosti" dismisses NGO's accusations

The newspaper today also dismissed all accusations the NGO presented at a recent news conference, and retorted that the NGO's criticism were ill-intended and untrue accusations.

Sixteen killed in fighting between army and rebels in Congo

Sixteen fighters from the reactivated Congolese rebel movement M23 have been killed during two days of fighting with the army in the east of the country, a military spokesman said Thursday.

Maltese FM on behalf of EU calls for preservation of stability in BiH

Maltese Foreign Minister George Vella said in Sarajevo on Thursday that his country, as the current chair of the European Union, closely followed the developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and other parts of the Western Balkans.

Croatia-Hungary committee on minorities meets after four-year hiatus

The Croatia-Hungary Intergovernmental Committee for the implementation of the agreement on the protection of the rights of the respective ethnic minorities met in Zagreb on Thursday after a four-year hiatus.

Syrian rebels claim full control of al-Bab, defeating IS

Syrian rebels backed by Turkey said Thursday they are fully in control of al-Bab, wresting it from Islamic State after a military campaign that began in November and cost hundreds of lives.

HURS says Croatia fails to create conditions for long-term growth

The Croatian Association of Workers' Trade Unions (HURS) warned on Thursday that a report which the European Commission released on Wednesday showed that Croatia had failed to create conditions for a long-term economic growth, adding that the situation in the Podravka food company suggested the continuation of the trend of shutting down jobs in the production sector.