At least 19 people have died and dozens are missing in Germany after severe flooding turned streams and streets into raging torrents, swept away cars and collapsed some buildings.
Authorities in the western county of Euskirchen said on Thursday that eight people had been killed in the flooding. Rescue operations were hampered by the loss of telephone and internet connections in part of the region, southwest of Cologne.
Police in the western city of Koblenz said four people had died in Ahrweiler province and about 50 people were trapped on the roofs of their homes pending rescue.
In the village of Schuld, six houses collapsed last night. “Many people have been reported missing,” the police said.
Schuld is located in the Eifel, a volcanic area of rolling hills and small valleys southwest of Cologne.
The full extent of damage in the region was still unclear after many villages were cut off by floods and landslides that left roads impassable. Videos posted on social media showed cars drifting through streets and houses partially collapsing in places.
Authorities have declared a state of emergency in the region after days of heavy rainfall that also hit large parts of western and central Germany, as well as neighboring countries, causing extensive damage.
Police said four people died in separate incidents after their cellars flooded in Cologne, Kamen and Wuppertal, where authorities warned a dam was in danger of bursting.
Around #Cologne, villages are being evacuated as rivers, dams and lakes flood the cities. Some areas are impassable, citizens are asked to stay upstairs in their homes.
Send prayers. And someone who is willing to fight #climatechange. pic.twitter.com/6EnlhhXZ3Y
— Christian Odendahl (@COdendahl) July 14, 2021
Authorities in the Rhine-Sieg province south of Cologne ordered the evacuation of several villages under the Steinbachtal reservoir for fear that the dam could break there as well.
A firefighter drowned on Wednesday during rescue efforts in the west German town of Altena and another collapsed during rescue operations at a power plant in Werdohl-Elverlingsen. A man went missing in the eastern city of Joehstadt after he went missing while trying to secure his property from rising waters, authorities said.
Rail connections were suspended in large parts of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state. Governor Armin Laschet, who is a candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor in this fall’s German elections, was due to visit the flood-stricken city of Hagen later Thursday.
The German weather service DWD predicted that the rainfall would decrease on Thursday.
The night’s relentless rains exacerbated the flooding in eastern Belgium, where one person was drowned and at least another went missing.
Some cities saw water levels rise to unprecedented heights and their centers turned into flowing rivers.
Major highways were flooded and in the south and east of the country, the rail service said all traffic had stopped, adding that “alternative transportation is highly unlikely”.
One death has been reported in eastern Eupen, on the German border, after being swept away by a deluge, a local governor told RTBf network.
In Liège, the main city in eastern Belgium, the Meuse could overflow its banks by early afternoon and flow into the heart of the city. Police warned citizens to take precautions.
🌧 Terrible images montrant l’ampleur dramatique des inondations à Theux en Province de Liège en Belgique. Il va encore pleuvoir toute la nuit. (© Christelle Jeanpierre) pic.twitter.com/hrj6zrf4JX
— Météo Express (@MeteoExpress) July 14, 2021
Authorities in the southern Dutch town of Valkenburg, close to the German and Belgian borders, evacuated a care home and hospice overnight amid flooding that turned the tourist town’s main street into a river, Dutch media reported.
The Dutch government sent some 70 troops to the southern province of Limburg at the end of Wednesday to help with tasks such as transporting evacuees and filling sandbags when rivers overflow. There were no reports of injuries as a result of flooding in the Netherlands.
Unusually intense rains this week have also flooded part of northeastern France, cutting down trees and closing dozens of roads. A train route to Luxembourg was disrupted and firefighters evacuated dozens of people from homes near the Luxembourg and German borders and in the Marne region, according to local broadcaster France Bleu.
The equivalent of two months of rain has fallen in some areas in the past one or two days, according to France’s National Weather Service. With the ground already saturated, the agency predicted more rainstorms on Thursday and issued flood warnings for 10 regions.