AT LEAST 37 people are dead and up to 70 are missing when homes collapsed during intense flooding in Germany and Belgium.
33 people are known to have died in western Germany, with an addition four confirmed dead over the border in Belgium.
Houses came down in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany last night and the dead included two firefighters who drowned, according to Bild.
One firefighter drowned while a second collapsed following a rescue operation in North Rhine Westphlia, DPA news agency reports.
Floods have also hit Liege province in eastern Belgium, killing at least four.
Belgium news outlet VRT NWS quoted the mayor of Pepinster, a small town of around 10,000 people in the Liege province, who said dozens of houses collapsed along the Vesdre River that flows through the area.
WHAT IS HAPPENING IN BELGIUM?
Across the border in Belgium, the Vesdre river broke its banks and sent masses of water churning through the streets of Pepinster, close to Liege, its destructive power bringing down some buildings.
“Several homes have collapsed,” mayor Philippe Godin told RTBF network. It was unclear whether all inhabitants had been able to escape unhurt.
Several Belgian media reported that four people died in eastern Verviers. No independent confirmation was immediately available.
Major highways were inundated in the south and east of Belgium, and the railway service said all traffic was stopped.
IS THIS THE WORST FLOODING GERMANY HAS EVER SEEN?
The floods have caused Germany’s worst mass loss of life in years. Flooding in 2002 killed 21 people in eastern Germany and over 100 across the wider central European region.
GERMAN DEATH TOLL RISES TO 33
At least 33 people have died in Germany and dozens were missing on Thursday as record rainfall in western Europe caused rivers to burst their banks, swept away homes and flooded cellars.
Eighteen people died and dozens were missing around the wine-growing hub of Ahrweiler, in Rhineland-Palatinate state, police said, after the Ahr river that flows into the Rhine rose and brought down half a dozen houses.
Eight people died in the Euskirchen region south of the city of Bonn, authorities said. In Belgium, two men died due to torrential rain and a 15-year-old girl was missing after being swept away by a swollen river.
Hundreds of soldiers were helping police with the rescue efforts, using tanks to clear roads of landslides and fallen trees, while helicopters winched those stranded on rooftops to safety.
Environment official Bernd Mehlig told WDR: “We see this kind of situation only in winter ordinarily.” Something like this, with this intensity, is completely unusual in summer.” According to 2019 figures on statista.com, North Rhine Westphalia is the most populated region in Germany with 18million of the country’s 83million inhabitants and consists of cities such as Dortmund, Dusseldorf and Cologne.
North Rhine Westphalia was hit by heavy rains caused by a low-pressure weather system German meteorologists dubbed Bern. The storm system dumped 148 litres of rain per square metre within 48 hours in parts of Germany that usually see 80 litres during the whole of July.
MORE STORMS COMING
Rail and road transport has been disrupted by the torrential downpours and the army have been called in to help with evacuations. More storms are expected to hit southwestern Germany today and could last until tonight, forecasters said.
The Germany Weather Service issued an extreme weather warning for three states this week and said rains over the past 24 hours had been “unprecedented”. The city of Hagen declared a state of emergency after the banks of the Volme river burst, leaving around 190,000 households without electricity.
Rhineland-Palatinate premier Malu Dreyer declared the floods a “catastrophe”.”It’s a catastrophe! There are dead, missing and many people still in danger,” he said.”
All of our emergency services are in action round the clock and risking their own lives. “I extend my sympathies to the victims of this flood catastrophe.”
Residents were seen climbing onto the roofs of their homes in a desperate attempt to be rescued by helicopters. Rescuers have also become trapped in some parts due to the strong current of floodwaters. “There are many places where fire brigades and rescue workers have been deployed. We don’t yet have a very precise picture because rescue measures are continuing,” a police spokesperson said.
ON A KNIFE EDGE
The situation in the rural area of Eifelkreis Bitburg-Prum has been described as “extremely dangerous”. A family of five is reportedly stranded in their home while being surrounded by rising water – with rescue attempts proving unsuccessful. Homes within a 50-metre radius of the Ahr River have been urgently evacuated.
In Solingen and in the Unna district, two men were found dead in their flooded cellars. In Leverkusen, 468 people had to be evacuated from a hospital after floods cut off power, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says.
Flooding has caused major damage to properties and forced authorities to close off large chunks of motorway leading in and around the inundated areas.
A police spokesman in Koblenz, Rhineland-Palatinate, said that up to 70 people are missing, Bild reports. Some 50 people trapped on their roofs have been rescued, a local police official said.
In Germany, at least eight are dead and as many as 25 more homes in the Schuld bei Adenau district are reportedly in danger of suddenly collapsing, while six have already crumbled, local police said Thursday morning.
In neighbouring North Rhine Westphalia, at least 13 people are confirmed dead with bodies found scattered in several places.
Source: The Sun