PARIS: Leaks were starting to appear Friday in the basements of Paris buildings as the Seine inched higher, with forecasters warning that the river could stay high throughout next week, especially if more rain is dumped on France.

The Vigicrues flooding agency scaled back its peak predictions for the river in the capital, saying it will top out at 5.8 to 6 metres [19 to 19.7 feet] between Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, compared with 6.2 metres previously.

That would still bring the Seine four to five metres above its normal height, causing headaches for commuters as well as people living near its overflowing banks.

It's enough to worry Joao de Macedo, superintendant at a residential building in Paris's 16th Arrondissement.

''There are six studios in the basement, and we've had to set up cinderblocks outside to keep the windows from breaking and covering everything in water,'' he said.

Inside the studios, tables and dressers have been lifted off the floor as water seeps through the walls.

In the streets outside, where the river was nearly lapping the tires of parked vehicles, a young woman found it ''great to see ducks instead of cars''.

The December-January period is now the third-wettest on record since data collection began in 1900, according to Meteo France.

But forecasters said the rainfall had not been enough to push the Seine beyond their expectations.

''We've been reassured, it will keep the water level high but not lift it,'' said Francois Duquesne of the  Vigicrues floods agency, though he warned of the risk for more rain next week.

''If it rains again starting toward the middle of next week, something I'm not sure of all at this point, we're not necessarily done with this yet,'' said Marc Mortureux, risks prevention director at the French environment ministry.



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