Hundreds Missing and Many Dead as Severe Floods Hit the West

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BERLIN — After a day of frantic rescue efforts and orders to evacuate towns quickly flooded with water not left by violent storms, German authorities said late Thursday they were unable to account for at least 1,300 people after multiple deaths were confirmed.

This staggering figure was announced after fast-flowing waters flowed from swelling rivers in cities and villages in the two west German states where the death toll crossed 90 in the hardest-hit areas on Friday and other deaths were expected.

Because communication was badly blocked, authorities hoped the missing persons were safe if they could not be reached. But storms and flood they have already proven deadly.

At least 11 more were reported dead in Belgium, according to authorities, who ordered residents of Liège’s city center to evacuate as the Meuse River, which flows through its centre, overflowed its banks.

Storms and consequent high waters have also battered neighboring Switzerland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg as a slow-moving weather system threatens to bring more rain to the flooded area overnight and through Friday.

The devastation caused by severe weather came days after the European Union made a statement. ambitious plan Moving away from fossil fuels in the next nine years, as part of plans to make the 27-nation bloc carbon neutral by 2050. Environmental activists and politicians were quick to draw parallels between flooding and the effects of climate change.

But Thursday’s focus continued to be on rescue efforts, as hundreds of firefighters, emergency responders and soldiers worked to rescue people from the upper floors and roofs of their homes, fill sandbags to stop the rising water, and search for missing persons.

One of the hardest-hit areas was the Ahrweiler region of Germany, where flash floods occurred along the village of Schuld, six houses were destroyed and several more were on the verge of collapse. Police said at least 50 people were killed in the Ahrweiler area.

The local official, who has not heard from many people, said the death toll is expected to rise late on Thursday. “Given the complexity of the damage level, it is not currently possible to make a final assessment of the situation,” he said. said in a statement.

“We don’t know the exact number of dead, but we can say that we have a large number of people affected by this flood,” Armin Laschet, governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, one of Germany’s hardest-hit states, told reporters.

Mr. Laschet, who ran as chancellor to replace Angela Merkel in the general election on 26 September, said: “Many people have lost everything they owned after mud spilled into their homes.”

The flooding in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate was one of the worst in decades after several days of incessant rain drained more water than could be absorbed by the soil and sewer systems.

The police called people upload a picture taken from the flood to aid them in their search.

Authorities reported that at least 43 people were killed in North Rhine-Westphalia, with at least 15 known to have died. Euskirchen, south of Düsseldorf. Although some villages were inaccessible, many were still being rescued.

Visiting Washington on Thursday, Ms. Merkel offered her condolences to those who lost loved ones and thanked the thousands of help. He promised the support of the German government for the affected areas.

He added that Germany has received offers of assistance from its European partners.

Hundreds of firefighters worked to evacuate people trapped overnight. Police said two firefighters died trying to save people in Altena, North Rhine-Westphalia.

“Water still flows knee-deep in the streets, parked cars are being thrown to the side and garbage and rubble are piling up on the sides,” Alexander Bange, regional spokesperson in North Rhine-Westphalia’s Märkische region, told German media. news agency DPA

“It’s really depressing in here,” he said.

Police said dozens of communities were left without electricity, with some villages completely cut off. Telephone and mobile networks were also down, making it difficult for authorities to identify who was missing.

Belgium and the Netherlands also experienced significant flooding as the weather system progressed through the region. In Belgium, flooding was reported to have killed at least two people in the Province of Liège. according to the country’s public broadcaster RTBF.

As the Meuse continues to rise to dangerous levels, district officials urged people in the city to evacuate and, if that’s not possible, seek shelter on the upper floors of the buildings. All stores were ordered to be closed, and tourists were advised to leave.

Belgian Defense Force He said he deployed helicopters and personnel to assist rescue and rescue efforts after reports that the river is expected to rise several meters and threaten a dam.

In the Netherlands, soldiers were sent to assist evacuations in the Province of Limburg, where at least one nursing home had to be evacuated. According to Dutch news outlet NU.nl.

Heavy rain in Switzerland made the country’s weather service He warned on Thursday that the flooding will worsen in the coming days.. He said the risk of flooding is high in Lake Biel, Lake Thun and Lake Lucerne, noting the potential for landslides.

leader Friends of the World in Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia He attributed the heavy flooding in the region to what state lawmakers said were failed policies. The impact of climate change is one of the hottest topics in Germany ahead of the September elections, when the Green party took second place behind Mr. Laschet’s conservative Christian Democrats.

“The disastrous results of the heavy rain over the past few days are largely domestic,” said Holger Sticht, head of the regional division, who blames lawmakers and industry for building in floodplains and woodlands. “We urgently need to change course.”

Megan Special contributing reporting.



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