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In pictures: Evacuations as torrential rain sweeps France

AFP / Kenzo Tribouillard | People walk in a flooded street on June 1, 2016 in Nemours, France.

Parts of France were left underwater Wednesday after torrential rain swept across vast swathes of the country, flooding rural roads and villages and causing the River Seine to burst its banks in the capital Paris.

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Heavy rain, resulting in flooding in some areas, hit around a quarter of the country in all on Tuesday, from Normandy in the west to Burgundy southeast of Paris, in what was the latest in several consecutive days of bad weather to hit France and other parts of northern Europe.

In the French capital, the River Seine burst its banks and is still rising. It had reached 4.16 meters by Wednesday morning, resulting in the closure of key central roads in Paris and parts of the rivers embankment.

Rescue workers evacuated homes and ordered people to upper floors in the Pas-de-Calais region in the far north as rivers rose more than a meter (3 feet) in some neighbourhoods, according to local authorities. In the northern French city of Lens, firefighters patrolled the flooded streets in dinghies looking for anyone who might be in difficulty.

"We've never seen anything like it," said Cyril Boulleaux, mayor of Villeneuve-sur-Yonne in northern France.

"We had floods in 1984-5 and 2001, but we've currently got seven or eight hamlets flooded out of 14."

A jail in Saran, central France had to be evacuated, with some 400 prisoners having to be moved to other facilities.

Meanwhile, cars on the A10 motorway were brought to a standstill by flooding, with one car half-sunk due to the downpour. The army rescued some of the 650 or so motorists stranded on the A10 by the rising waters, evacuating them to the nearby town of Orléans.

Two departments in France – Loiret south of Paris and Seine-et-Marne to the east of the French capital – remained on red alert for further flooding Wednesday.

Schools were also closed across the Loiret, local authorities said Wednesday, while the prefect of Seine-et-Marne department Jean-Luc Marx told French radio that 17 towns had elected not to open "schools, colleges and high schools".

Meanwhile, the French Open tennis tournament was hit for a second day by the shocking weather on Tuesday with play stopped during a match featuring world number one Novak Djokovic.

The stormy weather began in tragic fashion on Saturday, when lightning struck a children's birthday party at a Paris park. Five of the 11 people hit remain hospitalised.

The unseasonal weather also affected other parts of northern Europe, including Germany where flooding in the south left four people dead, including a 13-year-old girl.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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