More than 100 people have died and over 1000 have gone missing in Germany as a result of torrential rain and flooding, which has been regarded as the country’s worst flooding catastrophe in decades.
In Germany’s Rhineland-Palatinate state, at least 50 individuals have died, nine of whom were residents of an assisted-living facility for people with impairments. According to local authorities, 43 more people have died in North Rhine-Westphalia, with the death toll expected to grow further.
Hundreds of people are still missing after a landslide in Germany (photos)
Another 12 people have died in Belgium, according to RTBF. Flooding has also impacted France, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.
Earlier on Thursday, the authorities said that communication, including internet and telephone connections, was restricted with the 112 emergency number “not reachable”.
Dozens of people were reported missing after several homes collapsed in the village of Schuld in the Eifel, a volcanic region of rolling hills and small valleys.
Many villages were reduced to rubble as old brick and timber houses couldn’t withstand the sudden rush of water, often carrying trees and other debris as it gushed through narrow streets.
It comes after five deaths were reported on Wednesday, including an 82-year-old man who died in Wuppertal after falling in his flooded basement and a fireman who drowned in Altena during rescue work.
The governor of Rhineland-Palatinate state, Malu Dreyer, told the regional parliament on Thursday that “We have never seen such a disaster. It’s really devastating.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel, in Washington for a meeting with US President Joe Biden, said in a statement that she was “shocked by the catastrophe that so many people in the flood areas have to endure”.
“My sympathy goes out to the families of the dead and missing. My heartfelt thanks go to the many tireless helpers and emergency services,” she added.
In Belgium, the governor of Liege Province, Catherine Delcourt, said that at least two people had lost their lives and that several others were missing.
Four bodies were also found Thursday in the eastern Belgian district of Verviers, the city’s prosecutor confirmed.
Residents in Chaudfontaine, on the banks of the river Vesdre, began to be evacuated on Wednesday afternoon. The operation was expected to involve up to 1,700 people, RTBF reported.
The French government said that 40 rescuers from its Civil Security Training and Intervention Unit, as well as a helicopter with two water rescue specialists on board, were on their way to Belgium to help. They are being deployed as part of the European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid.