At least 110 persons have died in devastating floods in parts of western Germany and Belgium, AP reported on Friday.
Sixty people have lost their lives in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, including at least nine residents of an assisted living facility for persons with disabilities, local authorities said. In the neighbouring North Rhine-Westphalia state, officials reported a toll of 43, but warned that the figures could rise further.
Twelve people have died in Belgium and five are missing, according to a provisional tally.
Videos on social media showed cars floating on flooded streets and residents being rescued by a helicopter.
In the German town of Erftstad, southwest of Cologne, rescuers helped people trapped in their homes. “We managed to get 50 people out of their houses last night,” said Frank Rock, the head of the county administration. “We know of 15 people who still need to be rescued.”
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was “stunned” by the devastation caused by the flooding. “In the hour of need, our country stands together,” he said in a statement on Friday afternoon. “It’s important that we show solidarity for those from whom the flood has taken everything.”
Rhineland-Palatinate premier Malu Dreyer said that infrastructure has been destroyed completely, and rebuilding will cost a lot of time and money, Reuters reported.
In Belgium, the town of Liege was worst hit. France has sent 40 military personnel and a helicopter to Liege in Belgium to help with the flood situation, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Twitter.
The toll is the highest of any natural catastrophe in Germany since a deadly North Sea flood in 1962, that killed around 340 people.
On Wednesday and Thursday, extreme rainfall was reported in most of western Germany, CNN reported.
In the German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, widespread swathes registered 24-hour rainfall total between 100 and 150 millimeters. These was equivalent to more than a month’s worth of rainfall in this region.
Cologne recorded 154 millimeters of rainfall in only 24 hours ending Thursday morning, which is nearly double its monthly average for July of 87 millimeters.