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Torrential rain brings flooding from Paris to Prague

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Torrential rain brings flooding from Paris to Prague

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Northern Europe has continued to be lashed by torrential rain, bringing extensive flooding to Belgium, Germany and France.

Paris has never experienced so much rain in May since records began in 1873.

The scenes of flooding along the River Seine have been known in winter – though the fact it has been happening in June has caused surprise.

The A10 near Orleans resembled less a motorway on Wednesday than a river or a canal.

Hundreds of motorists became stranded. The army intervened to take them to emergency centres in nearby towns. Some cars later became totally immersed in water.

In northern France, fire crews have been called out hundreds of times, having no other option but to travel by boat to rescue people from their homes.

In this part of the country, as much rain fell in 24 hours as normally falls in the whole of May.

“In December 1999 the level of the River Lawe reached reached 3 metres 31, and now we’ve beaten the record: 3 metres 42, so 11 centimetres higher,” said one man surveying the damage to his house.

Tourists come to Prague from around the world to stroll across the medieval Charles Bridge – on Tuesday afternoon they were forced to run for cover.

The Czech capital was one of several European cities hit by heavy thunderstorms.

In the southwestern German town of Braunsbach, whole parts of the centre were simply washed away at the weekend, the water carrying with it anything in its path.

Three people were suspected to have died in the floods.

In some streets the damage looked more like the aftermath of an earthquake. The floodwaters having subsided, residents have been trying to clear the rubble and mud – and survey the destruction inside their homes.

Businessman Ortwin Wolf feared his company may have suffered damage costing a million euros.

“Within five minutes the water levels rose from nothing to a stream. An incredible stream, and the worst thing is we can’t understand how this could happen. We don’t know,” he said.

Tennis fans have become used to covers on the courts at the French Open. Monday saw no play at all; on Tuesday only a handful of matches were completed.

The lure of Paris in the spring is still bringing people to the main tourist sites, despite several consecutive days of rain.

Tourists including a bridal party next to the Eiffel tower in the capital took the downpours in good spirits, with the groom saying the rainy wedding pictures were “special”, because they differed from the sunny photos people tended to take.

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