(Update: adds Merkel visit)
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.
Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the most affected areas in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate on Sunday after concluding her last official trip to Washington, where she met with United States president Joe Biden.
Merkel and Rhineland-Palatinate State Premier Malu Dreyer met with locals and emergency workers as they inspected the devastation first-hand.
At a press conference, Merkel said the scenes of destruction were “surreal and haunting” but praised the togetherness and solidarity of the locals in the wake of the worst floods in Germany in living memory.
“I would almost say the German language has no words at all for the devastation that has been wrought,” she said.
“We stand by your side,” she continued, adding that “fortunately Germany is a country that can handle this financially”.
She promised more government action that prioritizes the climate crisis.
“We will stand up to this force of nature in the short term, but also in the medium and long term with a policy that takes nature and the climate more into account than we have done in recent years,” she said.