Work to clear damage, find survivors in Germany, Belgium continues
Berlin/Brussels, Jul 19 (EFE).- Emergency operations in eastern Belgium and western Germany to clear the damage caused by the worst floods Europe has seen in decades and to locate hundreds of people who remain missing continued on Monday.
At least 163 people have died in Germany due to the devastating inundations that followed days of severe rain in the region, while hundreds are still unaccounted for.
In neighboring Belgium, the crisis center said the death toll on Monday evening had risen to 31, with 70 people missing.
“The forces of nature have left in their wake an unimaginable scene of desolation,” Bart Raeymaekers of Belgium’s national crisis center said. “The rebuild will take time.”
The material damage in both countries in terms of damaged infrastructure is enormous.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, who called the scenes of destruction “surreal and haunting” during a visit to the worst-affected areas of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate on Sunday, pledged immediate emergency funds and will discuss the issue with her cabinet on Wednesday.
An initial aid package of 300 million euros has been approved for people who are in a particularly urgent situation in the face of a generational catastrophe that has left many homes and businesses completely destroyed.
“Whoever has not been here cannot understand the scale of what has happened. It will take years to repair the damage,” said Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner during a visit to her home state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
“There are people who have fled their homes with nothing but their pajamas and have literally been left with nothing,” she added.
The Regional Environmental Office of North Rhine-Westphalia (LANUV) has also warned of the danger of water contamination with oil, diesel and other substances.