At least 67 people were killed and many are still missing in massive floods that swept western Europe, affecting Germany and Belgium in particular.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is visiting the United States ahead of her meeting with US President Joe Biden, said she was “shocked by the disaster”, which many officials attributed to climate change.
In Belgium, the storms killed eight people, while four are still missing. Luxembourg and the Netherlands were also heavily damaged.
But the situation in western Germany on Thursday was particularly worrying, with at least 59 people killed as of the beginning of the night, according to a toll announced by the authorities. – “Tragedy” – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said from Washington that what happened was a “disaster and tragedy”, stressing that the state “will do everything necessary” to help those affected.
The worst floods occurred in the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, washing away buildings and cars in their path.
It comes after unprecedented torrential rains in parts of Western Europe caused major rivers to overflow from their banks.
Malu Dreyer, governor of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, described the flooding as a “disaster”.
“There are dead people missing and many are still in danger. All emergency teams are working around the clock and their personnel are risking their lives,” she said.
The authorities have deployed police helicopters and hundreds of soldiers to assist the stranded residents. Police said earlier that dozens of people were waiting for rescue on the rooftops of their homes.
Some schools were closed, while trains and road transport were severely disrupted.
It is reported that some homes are completely isolated and can no longer be reached by boat.
In Belgium, the city of Liege asked its residents to evacuate their homes.
Nearly two thousand people were forced to evacuate their homes in the town of Chaudfontein, according to the Belgian newspaper “Le Soir”.
Train services were suspended in the southern part of the country due to bad weather.
The Netherlands has also been hit hard, with many homes damaged in the southern state of Limburg and care homes evacuated.
Weather forecasts expect more heavy rain in most parts of Western Europe on Thursday and Friday.
Experts say climate change is expected to cause more bad weather, but linking any one event to global warming is complicated.