Germany floods leave at least 80 dead, 1,300 missing
(Update 1: adds death toll in Belgium, paragraph 10)
Berlin, Jul 16 (EFE).- Devastating floods in eastern Germany have left at least 80 people dead and 1,300 missing, according to the latest data from officials.
It is feared those figures may rise, said a police spokesman in Koblenz, a city where the Moselle River meets the Rhine.
The heavy rainfall has now subsided but the situation in the affected regions remains tense.
The number of missing is difficult to estimate accurately as, according to a spokeswoman for Ahrweiler district, mobile phone connections have collapsed and many people are unreachable.
The army has assigned 900 soldiers to help rescue and search for missing persons in the federal states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia.
In total, there are 15,000 people involved in the rescue efforts, according to the interior ministry.
The authorities have warned citizens to stay away from rivers and out of flooded basements as there is a danger of electric shocks.
The economic damage of the storm has not yet been estimated, but taking into account that it has affected roads, railway lines and bridges as well as houses and private companies, a high cost is expected.
Rhineland-Palatinate has allocated a first emergency installment of 50 million euros to alleviate the damage.
In neighbouring Belgium, the heavy rain storms have caused the deaths of 14 people and serious damage mostly in the southern region of Wallonia, where authorities plan to declare a state of natural disaster. EFE