More than 150 dead in Germany and Belgium floods

·2-min read
Debris hangs on a damaged bridge over the Ahr River in Schuld, Germany (AP)
Debris hangs on a damaged bridge over the Ahr River in Schuld, Germany (AP)

More than 150 people have died and many people are missing in Germany and neighbouring Belgium after heavy flooding swept away cars and caused buildings to collapse.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was “stunned” by the devastation caused by the flooding, as emergency services continue their search for the hundreds missing.

“In the hour of need, our country stands together,” Mr Steinmeier said on Friday afternoon.

The president also pledged support to the families of those killed and the cities and towns affected, adding: “It’s important that we show solidarity for those from whom the flood has taken everything.”

Authorities in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate said on Saturday morning that 93 people had died.

This included at least 12 residents in an assisted living facility for people with disabilities.

Neighbouring North Rhine-Westphalia’s death toll currently stands at 43.

Officials warned the figures could rise further as about 1,300 people in the Ahrweiler district of Rhineland-Palatinate remain unaccounted for.

Meanwhile, the Belgian interior minister, Annelies Verlinden, said the country’s death toll had risen to 20, with another 20 still missing.

Most of those that died were found around Liège, despite an order for residents of central districts and areas bordering the Meuse River to vacate.

Ms Verlinden warned that water levels on the Meuse running into the Netherlands remained critical.

“There are a number of dikes on the Meuse where it is really touch and go whether they will collapse,” she said.

Meteorologists said some areas of western Europe had received two months’ rain in two days ahead of the floods, with more than 150 litres per square metre falling over 24 hours in parts of western Germany.

Several senior officials have cited climate change as the cause behind the disaster.

Malu Dreyer, governor of Rhineland-Palatinate state said: "Climate change isn’t abstract anymore. We are experiencing it up close and painfully”.

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