At least 68 people have died and at least 70 are still missing after heavy rain resulted in Europe’s deadliest flooding in decades.
Vehicles and homes were swept away in Germany and many areas of Belgium.
Malu Dreyer, premier of Rhineland-Palatinate state, said the situation was a ‘catastrophe,’ adding: “There are dead, missing and many still in danger. Our emergency services are in action… and risking their own lives.”
The hardest-hit area was western Germany where more than 45 people have died.
Authorities in Germany estimate at least 60 people have died in the floods. Belgian media also reported eight deaths in the country.
Belgian authorities ordered residents living along the waterfront in Liege to evacuate as water levels rose.
Mayor of nearby Chaudefontaine Daniel Bacquielaine told RTL radio: “We have rarely experienced such intense flooding. You have to go back to 1998 to have experienced this.”
People in South Limburg, Netherlands also had to be evacuated due to flooding. Switzerland was also hit by flooding as rivers burst the banks.
65-year-old Annemarie Mueller told AFP that her town of Mayen was not prepared for the destruction.
“Where did all this rain come from? It’s crazy,” she expressed. “It made such a loud noise and given how fast it came down, we thought it would break the door down.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was ‘shocked’ by the ‘disaster,’ vowing that the government would do “everything in its power to, under the most difficult circumstances, save lives, prevent danger and ease suffering.”
North Rhine-Westphalia premier Armin Laschet also canceled a meeting in Bavaria to check the damage in his state.
“We will stand by the towns and people who’ve been affected,” Laschet told reporters as he called for ‘speeding up’ global efforts to combat climate change.
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