At least 50 people have died and more than 1,000 more are missing after floods in Germany overflowed rivers, washed away cars and caused houses to collapse on Thursday, authorities said.
The Ahrweiler district government, located in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate, said 1,300 people were reported missing.
Authorities said at least 30 people have died in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and 28 in neighboring Rhineland-Palatinate to the south, the Associated Press reported.
The storms caused deadly floods in Belgium, where the media reported eight dead. Luxembourg and the Netherlands have also experienced flooding.
In Germany, torrential rains and storms stranded people on rooftops, and authorities used inflatable boats and helicopters to identify and rescue residents. The German army has deployed soldiers to assist in the operation.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was in Washington, DC on Thursday to meet with US President Joe Biden, said the situation was “characterized by fear, by despair, by suffering.”
Hundreds of thousands of people have faced disaster, she said, and homes have become death traps.
“My empathy and heart goes out to all those who in this disaster lost their loved ones, or who still worried about the fate of those still missing,” she said.
Biden also expressed his condolences and the condolences of the American people to those affected by the flooding in Germany and other countries.
To Schuld, who is in Ahrweiler, Edgar Gillessen said the devastation was “simply catastrophic”.
“All these people who live here, I know them all. I’m so sorry for them, they lost everything. All they have is what they had on them – it’s all gone, ”Gillessen, 65, told Reuters. “A friend had a workshop there, nothing standing. The bakery, the butcher, everything is gone. It’s scary. Unimaginable. “