Flood death toll in Germany and Belgium rises to 170 weather news
The death toll from the devastating floods in western Germany and Belgium on Saturday rose to at least 170 after the river and mountain floods that broke out this week caused houses to collapse and tear roads and electrical wires.
About 143 people were killed in floods in Germany’s worst natural disaster in more than half a century. According to the police, they included about 98 people in the Ahrweiler district south of Cologne.
Due to high water levels, some areas are inaccessible, while communications in some places are still interrupted, and hundreds of people are still missing or unreachable.
Residents and business owners are working hard to clean up the mess in the devastated town.
“Everything is completely destroyed. You don’t know the scenery,” said Michael Lang, the owner of a hotel in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler in Ahrweiler, holding back tears.
German President Frank-Waltersteinmeier visited Elfstadt in North Rhine-Westphalia. The disaster caused at least 45 deaths.
“We mourn with those who have lost friends, acquaintances, and family members,” he said. “Their fate is tearing our hearts.”
Authorities said that about 700 residents were evacuated on Friday night after a dam broke in the town of Wasenberg near Cologne.
But Wassenberg Mayor Marcel Maurer said the water level has been stable since the evening. “It is too early to make a conclusion, but we are cautiously optimistic,” he said.
However, after about 4,500 people were evacuated from downstream houses, the authorities stated that the Steinbachtal Dam in western Germany was still at risk of damage.
Steinmeier said that a comprehensive assessment is expected to require several weeks of reconstruction funds in the billions of euros.
The governor of North Rhine-Westphalia and the candidate of the ruling CDU party in the September general election, Armin Laschet, said that he will meet with Finance Minister Olaf Schu in the coming days. Olaf Scholz discusses financial support.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to travel to the Rhineland-Palatinate state on Sunday, which is home to the destroyed village of Schuld.
According to the National Crisis Center, which is responsible for coordinating local rescue operations, the death toll has risen to 27 in Belgium.
It added that 103 people were “missing or unable to be contacted”. The center said that some people may not be able to contact because they cannot charge their mobile phones or are hospitalized without identification documents.
The community is cut off
In the past few days, floods have mainly hit the German states of Rhineland-Palatinate, North Rhine-Westphalia, and eastern Belgium, causing the entire community to lose electricity and communications.
Germany’s largest electricity producer said on Saturday that its open-pit mine and the Westweiler coal-fired power plant in Inden were severely affected, adding that the capacity of the plant is being reduced after the situation has stabilized.
In Luxembourg and Namur provinces in southern Belgium, authorities are eager to supply drinking water to families.
The flood levels in the worst-hit areas of Belgium slowly dropped, allowing residents to sort out damaged properties. On Saturday afternoon, Prime Minister Alexander De Crowe and European Commission President Ursula von der Lein visited some areas.
Infrabel, the Belgian railway network operator, has announced a line maintenance plan, some of which will not be put back into use until the end of August.
The Netherlands is on high alert
As the flooding of the river threatens the towns and villages of the southern province of Limburg, the emergency services in the Netherlands are also on high alert.
In the past two days, tens of thousands of residents in the area have been evacuated, while soldiers, fire brigades and volunteers have been working frantically all Friday night to strengthen the dam and prevent flooding.
So far, the Netherlands has not suffered the same disaster as its neighbors, and as of Saturday morning, there have been no reports of casualties.
Scientists have long said that climate change will lead to greater downpours. But scientists said on Friday that it would take at least a few weeks to study to determine its role in these relentless rains.