Paris: Policewoman missing after being swept away in River Seine

A huge rescue operation was underway on Friday to save a policewoman who disappeared in the rising waters of the River Seine during a training exercise near Notre Dame Cathedral.

Paris: Policewoman missing after being swept away in River Seine

The policewoman went missing on Friday around 11.30 am during a diving training exercise carried out by the specialist river police and firefighters in the French capital.

The woman had dived in but reportedly did not surface after a period of time the under waters of the River Seine which have been steadily rising in recent days due to heavy rain and burst its banks on Friday.

Worried colleagues raised the alarm.

A French police spokesman said “It was a joint exercise of the fluvial brigade and the fire brigade of Paris. It was a planned and supervised exercise.”

(Photo: Jo Shumacher)

A huge rescue operation was launched involving boats, divers, dogs and a helicopter, but worries were growing for the safety of the missing woman. Part of the area near Notre Dame was cordoned off. The search was centered around Pont Neuf and Pont Saint Michel.

Witness Jo Schumacher told The Local: “Sirens descended on Pont Neuf, roads were quickly closed and crowds gathered to watch the police activity. The atmosphere was tense and it was clear there had been a serious incident.

“The police helicopter and tracker dogs joined the search along the banks of the river. There were divers and crews on both banks of the river searching under the rapidly flowing waters. An infra red search balloon was floated above the water.”

Images posted on Twitter showed the major operation. According to BFM TV the search was suspended on Friday afternoon as the fast flowing current meant conditions were too dangerous.

France has been hit by storms and heavy rain in recent days which has caused the River Seine to flood in parts. On Friday images posted online showed how it had risen so high that the tow paths along the river were submerged.

The death toll from storm Eleanor stands at three, while a fireman who was washed away in a flooded river and two other elderly men remain missing.

France storms: Death toll rises to three as flood and avalanche warnings remain




IN PICTURES: Seine floods in Paris as France faces further storms

The River Seine has overflowed after days of torrential rain, with more forecast in the coming days and flood warnings still in place for large parts of France.

IN PICTURES: Seine floods in Paris as France faces further storms
All photos: AFP

French weather forecaster Météo France has flood warnings in place for 21 départements, largely concentrated in the south west and north east of the country.

Days of torrential rain falling onto already saturated land have seen localised flooding around the country.

In Paris the River Seine has overflowed its banks, spilling onto the quais which are normally walkways, cycle tracks and home to pop-up bars and coffee stalls.


Water began lapping over the banks of the river on Sunday and on Monday the city of Paris closed large parts of the river banks to access.

By Tuesday the quais were flooded and Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning brought further heavy rain.


Météo France's weather warnings remain in place until Thursday and people in affected areas are warning to stay away from the flood waters after  a 70-year-old man died in the northern region of Hauts-de-France after he went out to watch the river Sambre and was caught off guard by the rising water, according to French media.