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Rivers In Europe Reach Record Levels Hundreds More People Have Been Driven From Their Homes

Mon., Jan. 30, 1995

Rivers in western Europe rose to near or above record levels Sunday, driving hundreds more people from their homes and shutting down factories.

At least six people have been reported missing and two dead in a third consecutive winter of flooding in France. At least four Germans and two Belgians have died. Heavy flooding also has hit the Netherlands.

A new storm, another of a chain that has rolled in from the Atlantic in recent days, brought light showers Sunday and many rivers were reported leveling off. But rougher weather was predicted for Wednesday.

The rising waters have flooded numerous cities - notably the Old City district in Cologne, Germany - and thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes. The damage is in the millions of dollars.

French Premier Edouard Balladur scheduled an emergency Cabinet meeting Monday morning.

In northeastern France, the Meuse River topped record levels Sunday, triggering the evacuation of 600 more people in and around Charleville-Mezieres, near the Belgian border, officials said.

About 50 rural roads were under water, and a national highway near the Belgian border was cut off in three places.

The rising Oise River prompted authorities to evacuate all 172 people Saturday night from a hospital in Laon, 65 miles northeast of Paris, and 70 residents fled their homes in the town of Origny-Sainte-Benoite.

A few miles to the south, the Aisne River neared record levels Sunday, threatening about 1,800 homes.

In Paris, the Seine neared 13 feet above normal Sunday. Riverside expressways have been closed since last week, and river traffic has been shut down.

In the northwest, the Maine and other swollen rivers have kept more than 600 people from their homes in Angers, 200 in Redon and 160 in the Normandy coastal town Ouistreham.

A Ouistreham man was found dead in his garage Sunday after drowning in floodwater while trying to save his belongings.

About 140,000 residents in the Seine-Maritime region had to boil water to drink, and scattered power outages affected thousands. Two factories and a college were evacuated.

In Brittany, thousands of people were evacuated from their homes last week. High water idled the more than 10,000 workers at a Citroen auto plant that builds 1,000 vehicles a day.

In Germany, the Rhine River rose Sunday in Bonn, where the low-lying left bank was threatened and the U.S. Embassy was to be closed Monday as a precautionary measure.

Tags: Flood

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