At least 44 dead in floods in western Europe, dozens missing
A record amount of rain in western Europe caused rivers to breach their banks, sweeping away homes and flooding cellars, killing 42 people in Germany.
The Ahr river, which feeds into the Rhine, rose and knocked down half a dozen houses in the Rhineland-Palatinate wine-growing area of Ahrweiler, police said.
Authorities say 15 more perished in Euskirchen, south of Bonn. After being carried away by an overflowing river in Belgium, two men died and a 15-year-old girl went missing.
In Germany, hundreds of soldiers helped police remove highways of landslides and fallen trees, while helicopters hoisted people stuck on roofs to safety.
After the floodwaters retreated, Ahrweiler residents used snow shovels and brooms to clean muck off their houses and stores.
“I was blown away,” local resident Michael Ahrend told Reuters TV. “This isn’t a battle; it’s nature striking back. We should start paying attention.”
The floods killed the most people in Germany in years. Flooding in 2002 killed 21 persons in eastern Germany and over 100 in central Europe.
Merkel voiced her dismay.
The families of the deceased and missing are in my thoughts and prayers.
Armin Laschet, the conservative candidate to succeed Merkel as chancellor in a general election in September, blamed the severe weather on global warming.
“We shall be faced with similar occurrences again and over again,” he warned during a visit to the area.
Laschet is running against Social Democrat candidate Olaf Scholz and Green Party candidate Annalena Baerbock on climate and environmental concerns.
More than 1,000 people were evacuated from their homes as the river Vesdre inundated Pepinster, Belgium.
Rain also disrupted public transportation, with Thalys trains to Germany cancelled. Traffic on the Meuse is also halted due to the river’s imminent breach.
Flooding rivers in Limburg, the Netherlands, forced the evacuation of numerous care facilities.
Nine people, including two firemen, perished in North Rhine-Westphalia in addition to those in Euskirchen.
Schuld’s homes were destroyed to rubble and shattered beams. Wreckage and trees obstructed roads.
“It was devastating,” said 65-year-old Edgar Gillessen, whose parents’ house was devastated.
They’ve lost everything. A buddy had a workshop over there, nothing standing, the bakery, the butcher, it’s all gone. It’s terrifying. Unimaginable.”
Downriver on the Rhine, flooding was reported in Cologne and Hagen, and 400 people were evacuated from a hospital in Leverkusen.
Locals in Wuppertal, famed for its overhead railway, reported their cellars were flooded. Owner of the Kitchen Club discotheque Karl-Heinz Sammann remarked, “I have no idea how much damage there will be.”
A near-stationary low-pressure weather system also generated continuous local downpours to the west across France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, according to meteorological specialists.
Wet weather predicted to test flood defences along the Rhine’s banks, particularly in Cologne on the lower Rhine and Koblenz on the Moselle.
At least 44 dead in floods in western Europe, dozens missing, At least 44 dead in floods in western Europe, dozens missing, At least 44 dead in floods in western Europe, dozens missing, At least 44 dead in floods in western Europe, dozens missing, At least 44 dead in floods in western Europe, dozens missing