Catastrophic floods have killed more than 120 people in Western Europe, and hundreds are thought to be missing.
Shocking photos of the devastation in Germany and Belgium show entire villages under water, with cars left stuck between collapsed buildings and piles of debris. The Netherlands and Luxembourg have also been hit by extreme rains.
In Germany, at least 103 people were killed in two western provinces. In the severely affected district of Ahrweiler, in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, authorities told CNN that 1,300 people were missing.
“The end is not yet in sight”
“The end is not yet in sight,” Ulrich Sopart, a police spokesman in the city of Koblenz, told CNN. He said authorities hope the number of missing will be reduced after the telephone lines are repaired.
“We hope that some people may have been reported missing twice or even three times – if, for example, a family member, co-worker or friend reported someone missing,” Sopart said.
” Also, in some places the phone lines are still not working and reception is difficult. We hope people get in touch with a relative, co-worker or friend to let them know they’re fine, ”he said.
At least 165,000 people are currently without electricity in the provinces of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia.
In North Rhine-Westphalia, where at least 43 people were killed, Katja Heins, a spokeswoman for the provincial Interior Ministry, told CNN: “The situation is still very dynamic – we don’t know how many people are missing.”
The death toll in the Rhineland-Palatinate province has risen to 60, provincial Prime Minister Malu Dreyer said, adding that new bad news is arriving hour by hour. “We are currently mourning the 60 dead and are afraid that number will continue to rise,” Dreyer told a news conference, adding: “We have not yet reached a stage where we can say the situation is calming down.”
“My city looks like a battlefield”
At least nine people drowned in a disability facility in the town of Sinzig, in the Ahrweiler district. The water came so fast that the wards could not escape, despite the efforts of the caretakers to take them to safety, CNTV reported.
About 15,000 police officers, soldiers and emergency workers in Germany are helping with the search and rescue.
Gregor Jericho, a resident of Rheinbach in North Rhine-Westphalia, told the BBC: “This is a very sad scene. Streets, bridges and some buildings have been destroyed. There is rubbish everywhere. Parts of buildings are on the road, people are sitting and crying. It is very sad “People have lost their homes, their cars are in flooded fields. My city looks like a battlefield.”
“Once the river started to overflow and the water came down from the hill, it took two minutes for the water in the yard to reach chest height. We had to go out the window and climb the hill,” a resident of the same town told Reuters.
150 mm of rain fell in one day, twice as much as the monthly average
“In some areas, we haven’t seen as much rain in the last 100 years,” a spokesman for Germany’s DWD weather service said, adding that twice as much rain was expected in the two hardest-hit provinces as expected.
In large parts of West Germany, between 100 and 150 millimeters of rain per square meter fell in one day. That’s more than the monthly average for that region.
In Cologne, 154 millimeters of rain fell in 24 hours, which is almost twice the monthly average of 87 millimeters.
In Reifferscheid, an incredible 207 millimeters of rain fell in just nine hours.
He is afraid of the dam breaking near Cologne
Authorities in the Rhine-Sieg district, south of Cologne, have ordered the evacuation of a village near the Steinbach reservoir due to the danger of a dam bursting. A total of 4,500 people were evacuated. It is not yet known when they will be able to return to their homes.
Engineers pumped water out of the lake last night, lowering the water level by about 2 centimeters.
“The situation is now stable, but not uncritical,” local authorities announced today.
By the way, the lake covers an area of 14.6 hectares, and the greatest depth is 17.4 meters. The total capacity of the lake is about a million cubic meters.
Water has spilled on other dams in the area, further raising concerns. Water is also pumped out at the Rurtalsperre, Wupper and Bever dams near Radevormwald.
Residents living along the Wupper River were told to leave the area immediately.
At least 23 dead in Belgium, a torrent carrying cars on the road
The death toll in Belgium in extreme weather and floods has risen to 23, the Belga news agency reported, citing a statement by the governor of the hard-hit province of Liege, after floods also hit parts of Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and other countries.
Dramatic footage from Belgium shows cars carrying floods along a street in the town of Verviers. A curfew was introduced overnight due to the danger of robbers.
Residents of Liege, the third largest Belgian city, were evacuated on Thursday. Local officials have announced that those unable to leave should move to the upper floors of houses and buildings.
The Meuse River, which runs through the city, stabilized on Friday morning, with small spills in some areas.
“There are still people on the roofs in the province of Liege who have not eaten or drunk for 36 hours,” Governor Herve Jamar told RTL-TVI and RTBF, according to Belga.
The mayor gave a statement, behind him the flood destroyed the house
In Pepinster, a city in eastern Belgium, a dozen houses collapsed after the Vesdre River flooded the city. More than a thousand homes were evacuated.
Sky News published a recording of a conversation with the mayor of Pepinster that was interrupted when one of the houses started collapsing due to the flood. The footage shows tenants fleeing over the roof.