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Louvre Museum reopens as France flood damage bill tops €1bn

Joseph Bamat, AFP | The Louvre Museum shut down on June 3, 2016 as the River Seine rose to near-record levels

The world-famous Louvre and d'Orsay museums reopened their doors to the public on Wednesday as French insurance companies announced their initial estimates for the cost of the natural disaster.

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Visitors once again flocked to see the Mona Lisa and the Nike of Samothrace in the Louvre, five days after flood waters forced an emergency shutdown of the French capital’s premier museum.

The D'Orsay Museum (Musée d'Orsay), home to one of the world’s best collections of impressionist masterpieces, also began welcoming sightseers after the temporary closures.

The two huge art complexes, both of which stand on the banks of the River Seine, closed last week to move tens of thousands of priceless works to higher ground as the river surged to near-record levels.

Louvre officials said 35,000 pieces were moved from storage and low-lying exhibition areas between Thursday and Saturday, when flood waters finally began to recede.

Only the museum’s Islamic Art wing, which saw many works removed from their display cases, remains closed until the exhibitions can be fully reinstalled, Louvre officials said.

Une photo publiée par @ohtableau le

The museum’s forced closure resulted in the loss of 120,000 visitors, representing around €1.5 million in revenue, the statement said.

Up to €1.4 billion lost

Flooding around Europe killed at least 19 people over the past week, including five in France.

As waters gradually receded, French authorities and insurance companies have also started adding up the financial toll of the catastrophe.

France’s AFA (the French insurance industry association) said on Tuesday that the cost of torrential rains and ensuing floods ranged between 900 million and 1.4 billion euros.

Flooding was spread across France, with an estimated 150,000 people directly affected by the deluge, the AFA said in a statement.

The government on Wednesday declared a natural disaster in 782 town and cities in 16 different departments across France, paving the way for faster compensation for flood victims.

Under the law, insurance companies have two months to provide partial compensation to victims in natural disaster areas, and three months to pay it in full.

An additional 215 other municipalities are waiting to be included in the list, a French official told the AFP news agency.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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