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Paris floods threaten artworks at Louvre museum

PARIS -- The Louvre museum in Paris says it will be closed Friday to remove artworks from rooms threatened by rising water from the Seine River.

The museum says Thursday the art will be preventively moved upstairs. Its most famous painting, Leonardo da Vince's "Mona Lisa," is staying put on an upper floor.

Floods have inundated parts of France, Germany and Belgium this week, killing six people and trapping thousands in homes or cars as rivers burst their banks from Paris to Germany's southern state of Bavaria.

Paris police, meanwhile, say their flood warning has been upgraded to "orange" level for areas in Paris near the Seine, which has overflowed its banks in many places. The warning is the second-highest level and means floods might have "a significant impact" on buildings and people.

French President Francois Hollande says a "natural disaster" will be formally declared next week in a Cabinet meeting for areas most affected by the flooding that has hit Paris and France's central regions.

The procedure enables residents to get financial help from their insurance companies more quickly.

Hollande also says there will be a specific fund to help villages and small towns deal with the damages caused by the floods. He spoke Thursday to mayors gathered in Paris.

Elsewhere in Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is promising continued help for flooded areas of southern Germany, where five people have been killed this week amid the floods.

Merkel told reporters in Berlin on Thursday that she "mourns for those for whom the help has come too late, who lost their lives."

She says disaster relief is now on hand to help both controlling the floods and with rebuilding damaged areas.

Police in Germany say they've found the body of a fifth victim after floods swept part of Bavaria.

The police said in a statement that the body of a man was found Thursday at a property in the town of Simbach am Inn. No further details were given.

The bodies of three other victims were found in the same town on Wednesday evening. In nearby Julbach, the body of a woman was also found in a stream Wednesday evening.

Although flood waters have receded in the area near the Austrian border, police say that some roads remain closed.

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