Floods in Europe kill more than 60 in Germany and Belgium – .

Floods in Europe kill more than 60 in Germany and Belgium – .

More than 60 people have died and dozens were missing on Thursday as severe flooding in Germany and Belgium turned streams and streets into raging torrents, sweeping cars away and causing houses to collapse.
Among those killed were nine residents of an assisted living facility and two firefighters involved in rescue efforts in the area.

“I mourn those who lost their lives in this disaster,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said during a visit to Washington, expressing shock at the extent of the floods.

Speaking alongside President Biden at the White House, Merkel said her thoughts went to those who had lost loved ones or were still looking for them.

“I fear that the scale of this tragedy will only be visible in the coming days,” she said.

Biden also offered his condolences for the devastating loss of life and destruction from the floods.

“Our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones,” he said.

Authorities in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia said at least 30 people had died, while 28 deaths were reported in the state of South Rhine-Palatinate. Belgian media reported eight deaths in this country.

Recent storms in parts of western Europe have overflowed rivers and reservoirs, triggering flash floods overnight after saturated ground could no longer absorb water.

Among the worst affected German villages was Schuld, where several houses collapsed and dozens of people remained missing.

Rescue operations were hampered by blocked roads and phone and internet failures in the Eifel, a volcanic region of hills and small valleys. Some villages have been reduced to rubble as the old brick and wooden houses could not withstand the sudden rise in water, often carrying trees and other debris as it gushed through the narrow streets.

Karl-Heinz Grimm, who came to help his parents in Schuld, said he had never seen the little river Ahr surge in such a deadly torrent.

“That night was like madness,” he said.

Dozens of people had to be rescued from the roofs of their homes with inflatable boats and helicopters. Germany has deployed hundreds of troops to help.

“There are dead, there are missing, there are many who are still in danger,” Rhineland-Palatinate state governor Malu Dreyer told the regional parliament. “We have never seen such a disaster. It is truly devastating.

The 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron and several volunteers from U.S. Air Force Base Spangdahlem filled and distributed hundreds of sandbags to help protect homes and businesses in the area, the U.S. European Command said.

In Belgium, the Vesdre overflowed its banks and capsized the streets of Pepinster, near Liège, where a firefighter rescue operation went wrong when a small boat capsized and three elderly people disappeared.

“Unfortunately, they were quickly swallowed up,” Mayor Philippe Godin said. “I’m afraid they are dead. “

In Verviers, the prosecution said several bodies had been found but could not confirm information from local media according to which four people were killed there.

In Liège, a city of 200,000 inhabitants, the Meuse overflowed on Thursday, and the mayor asked the inhabitants of the surroundings to move upwards.

European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has pledged to help, and Pope Francis has sent condolences, his office saying the pontiff is praying for the wounded and missing, as well as for those who have lost their livelihoods.

The full extent of the damage in the area was still unclear as many villages were cut off by floodwaters and landslides which made roads impassable.

Many of the dead were not discovered until after the floodwaters receded.

Authorities in Rhine-Sieg County, south of Cologne, have ordered the evacuation of several villages below the Steinbachtal reservoir, fearing the dam may also rupture.

Armin Laschet, governor of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, paid tribute to two deceased firefighters and pledged quick help.

“We do not yet know the extent of the damage, but we will not leave the communities, the people affected alone,” he said during a visit to the flood-affected town of Hagen.

Laschet, a conservative who is running to succeed Merkel as chancellor in Germany’s elections this fall, said the unusually severe storms and the previous heat wave could be linked to climate change.

Political opponents have criticized Laschet, the son of a miner, for supporting the region’s coal industry and hampering the expansion of wind power plants during his tenure.

Stefan Rahmstorf, professor of ocean physics at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said it was not clear whether the extreme precipitation in Germany was a direct result of global warming.

“But it can be argued that such events are becoming more frequent due to global warming,” he told The Associated Press, noting that warmer air can absorb more water vapor which eventually falls. in the form of rain.

“The increase in heavy rain and the decrease in days with light rain are now also clearly visible in the observational data, especially in the northern mid-latitudes, which include Germany,” said Rahmstorf.

The weakening of the summer circulation of the atmosphere, causing more lasting weather conditions such as heat waves or continuous rains, could also play a role, he added.

Rainfall declined later Thursday across Germany, although water levels in the Moselle and Rhine are expected to continue to rise.

In the Netherlands, King Willem-Alexander and his wife, Queen Maxima, traveled to the hard-hit Dutch town of Valkenburg on Thursday evening to support residents and emergency services. The floods turned the main street into a torrent of brown water, inundating homes and businesses.

The Dutch government sent some 70 troops to the southern province of Limburg on Wednesday evening to help with evacuations and fill the sandbags.

Thousands of people in neighborhoods in the city of Maastricht and other villages along the Meuse were ordered to evacuate on Thursday evening amid threats of flooding, and centers have been set up for them. host. The Meuse is the Dutch name for the Meuse.

In northeastern France, heavy rains inundated vegetable fields, many houses and a World War I museum in Romagne-sous-Montfaucon.

The Aire River has reached its highest levels in 30 years in some areas, according to the local newspaper L’Est Républicain.

The equivalent of two months of rain fell in some areas over two days, according to the French national weather service, with flood warnings issued for 10 regions. No injuries or deaths were reported, but forecasters warned of mudslides and more rain on Friday.


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