More than 120 people killed in historic floods in Germany, Belgium
Frankfurt, Germany, Jul 16 (EFE).- The worst flooding to hit parts of northwestern Europe in living memory has left at least 125 people dead.
In western Germany, the most severely affected region, at least 103 people have lost their lives, according to authorities.
The death toll is likely to climb much higher, as several hundred people are missing in the states of North Rhine Westphalia — the country’s most populated with 18 million residents — and Rhineland-Palatinate.
Communication lines are down, which is hampering rescue efforts but raises hopes that many of those who are unaccounted for are still alive but have been unable to get in touch with their relatives or authorities.
The Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, a candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor, told a press conference that the floods were on a “historic scale”, having affected 25 municipalities or districts in the state, Germany’s industrial heartland.
The massive Rhine river runs through the region, but it is its tributaries that have overflowed to cause such severe damage that has seen buildings swept away by the torrents of water after several days of heavy rainfall.
“We must make the NRW more prepared to respond to the climate crisis,” said Laschet.
The floods have caused road closures and hundreds of kilometers of railroad lines have been cut off.
Authorities have warned people to stay away from the vicinity of rivers and not to enter flooded basements due to the risk of electric shocks.
Some 15,000 people are participating in rescue efforts, the interior ministry said. Some particularly vulnerable localities have had to be evacuated, affecting thousands of people.