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Paris shuts Louvre museum to evacuate artworks as flood waters rise

Paris's Louvre museum has been closed so that its priceless artworks can be moved to safety amid the threat of flooding from the nearby River Seine.

Entries were halted on Thursday afternoon and, according to an internal memo sent to staff, the museum is expected to stay shut on Friday.

The French government has issued an orange flooding alert for central Paris after days of rain, with the Seine's water level passing about 5m.

"The museum will remain closed to the public tomorrow out of precaution: there is no danger to the public or our staff but will allow us to calmly remove certain art collections should it be necessary," the email sent to staff said, according to Reuters.

François Duquesne, head of Vigicrues, the agency which monitors water levels in France, said: “The Seine is still rising but we are far from the 8.5 metres recorded in 1910 (when large areas of the capital were flooded for 45 days). We should see a rise to a peak of around 5.6 metres overnight.”

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One department just east of Paris, Seine et Marne, is on “red alert”, the highest level. Several other departments within the Seine catchment area are at the “orange” or second highest alert level.

Other experts warned that the weather and flood levels remained unpredictable, a week before the Euro 2016 national football tournament begins in Paris next Friday. A giant “fan zone”, capable of hoisting up to 100,000 people has been built on the Champ de Mars, beside the Eiffel Tower and close to the river.

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