The death in floods in some parts of western Germany now sits at 93.
In addition, 1,300 people were still reported missing, though authorities said efforts to contact them could be hampered by disrupted roads and phone connections.
Authorities in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate said scores of people had died there, including at least nine residents of an assisted living facility for people with disabilities.
"It is a catastrophe. There are dead, missing and many are still in danger," says Malu Dreyer, President of German state of Rheinland Pfalz, hit by devastating floods.
Luxembourg, Belgium, NL, Switzerland also on flood alert as lakes and rivers burst their banks
via @innen_rlp pic.twitter.com/tFA91mRMxz
— World Meteorological Organization (@WMO) July 15, 2021
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on a visit to Washington, DC, voiced her shock at the scope of the flooding, saying “I grieve for those who have lost their lives in this disaster”.
She said the number of dead was likely to rise further.
“We still don’t know the number. But it will be many.”
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) July 15, 2021
Merkel said the day was “characterized by fear, by despair, by suffering, and hundreds of thousands of people all of a sudden were faced with catastrophe”.
“My heart goes out to all of those who in this catastrophe lost their loved ones, or who are still worrying about the fate of people still missing,” she said.
This drone footage shows the extent of damage caused by record rainfall in areas of Belgium and Germany. The torrential rain has caused river banks to burst and flood entire neighborhoods of certain cities. At least 42 people have died in Germany and dozens are still missing. pic.twitter.com/PXu8Xee1ay
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) July 16, 2021
Dozens of people had to be rescued from the roofs of their homes with inflatable boats and helicopters. Hundreds of soldiers were deployed to assist in the rescue efforts.
“There are people dead, there are people missing, there are many who are still in danger,” the governor of Rhineland-Palatinate state, Malu Dreyer, told the regional parliament.
“We have never seen such a disaster. It’s really devastating.”
The storms have put climate change back at the centre of Germany’s election campaign ahead of a September 26 parliamentary poll marking the end of Merkel’s 16 years in power.
Germany “must prepare much better” in future, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said, adding that “this extreme weather is a consequence of climate change”.
North Rhine-Westphalia premier Armin Laschet, the conservative running to succeed Merkel, called for “speeding up” global efforts to fight climate change, underlining the link between global warming and extreme weather.
In neighboring Belgium, the Vesdre River spilt over its banks and sent water churning through the streets of Pepinster, near Liege, where a rescue operation by firefighters went wrong when a small boat capsized and three elderly people disappeared.
In Verviers, the prosecutor’s office said several bodies had been found but could not confirm local media reports that four people were killed there.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pledged to help, tweeting:
“My thoughts are with the families of the victims of the devastating floods in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands and those who have lost their homes.”
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