Berlin/Brussels, Jul 18 (EFE).- Devastating floods following days of heavy rainfall as a storm passed through western Germany, Belgium and other parts of northwest Europe last week have killed at least 180 people, as officials warned Sunday that the death toll could still increase.
On Sunday morning, authorities in western Germany said that the number of fatalities had risen to 156, with Chancellor Angela Merkel expected to visit the most affected areas in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
The majority of fatalities in Germany have been recorded in the district of Ahrweiler of Rhineland-Palatinate, where 110 people are confirmed to have died since Thursday when the devastating floods began after days of persistent rain.
Ahrweiler is one of the worst-hit areas after the Ahr River, a tributary of the Rhine, burst its banks.
Work crews are focusing on clearing debris in the neighboring state of North-Rhine Westphalia, while power and access to drinking water remained cut off in the affected areas.
Rain alerts are still in place in several other areas, where people have been evacuated.
The severe weather has now shifted further south, with parts of Bavaria and Austria seeing heavy rains.
Merkel’s upcoming visit comes after the one made by the country’s president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, to North-Rhine Westphalia, where he met with regional prime minister and conservative chancellor candidate, Armin Laschet.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Belgium, the death toll rose to 27, while 103 others are still missing in flood-stricken areas, the country’s crisis center said on Saturday evening.
During a visit to the town of Maaseik, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said that his country will request the activation of the European Union solidarity fund to repair the damage caused by the floods. EFE