At least 58 people have died and dozens are missing Germany After most of Western Europe was flooded by record rainfall, it caused devastating floods.
“Climate change has come to Germany,” the environment minister said, because the country was shocked by seeing destroyed buildings, upside down cars and people trapped on roofs.
Weather experts say that the rainfall in the area in the past 24 hours is unprecedented, because the nearly stable low-pressure weather system has also led to continuous local downpours in western France. Belgium And the Netherlands.
Angela Merkel expressed shock at the extent of the flood. “I feel sad for those who lost their lives in this disaster,” the German Chancellor said in his speech Visit Washington DC“We still don’t know this number. But it will be a lot.”
She said that every effort will be made to find people who are still missing, adding that “‘heavy rain and flood’ cannot capture what happened.”
In the town of Schuld in the Eifel Mountains, several houses collapsed overnight and 70 people were reported missing.
“This is catastrophic,” said 65-year-old Edgar Gillessen, whose home was destroyed. “I know all the people who live here. I feel sorry for them, they have lost everything,” he told Reuters. “A friend opened a workshop over there. There is nothing. There is no bakery or butcher shop. It’s scary. It’s hard to imagine.”
By night, 28 people had died in Rhineland-Palatinate. “Some people are dead, some are missing, and many others are still in danger,” said the state’s prime minister, Malu Dreyer. “We have never seen such a disaster,” the Social Democratic politician added. “This is really devastating.”
After many villages were rendered impassable by floods and landslides, the full extent of the damage in the area remains unclear. Videos posted on social media showed cars floating on the street and houses partially collapsed.
In the neighboring western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, at least 30 people have died, including two firefighters who drowned during rescue missions.
In the cities of Cologne, Solingen and Unna, there have been at least four different incidents in which people died after being trapped by flooding in the basement. In Leverkusen, after the Dhünn River broke through its banks, a hospital with 468 patients had to be evacuated overnight after a power outage.
When the Germans were ready to vote in September, Choosing Merkel’s successorHowever, extreme weather may increase people’s awareness of global warming, which is a topic that the Green Party, second only to Merkel’s conservatives, has so far failed to dominate the agenda.
“Climate change has come to Germany,” said Environment Minister Svenja Schulze. “These events show how the consequences of climate change will affect us all, and the importance of adapting to future extreme weather events.”
On the national broadcaster ZDF, news anchor Claus Kleber pointed out that low-pressure areas are nothing new in the region. “But the fact that they are becoming more common has to do with the warming of the air in and above the Arctic and weakening the jet stream,” Kleber said. “So it has to do with climate change.”
Annalena Baerbock, the co-leader of the German Green Party and candidate for chancellor, returned from the holiday to participate in the situation, but did not immediately link the flooding to the climate crisis.
“The damage from the flood is shocking,” Balbok said. “My thoughts and sympathy are with those who mourn for their loved ones, worry about the missing and take care of the injured.”
Bernd Mehlig, an environmental officer from North Rhine-Westphalia, told WDR that what the state is experiencing is usually only seen in winter. He said: “Something like this, with such intensity, is totally unusual in the summer.”
According to energy network operator Westnetz, 200,000 people in the two western states were affected by the blackout.
The army was deployed in North Rhine Westphalia to help stranded residents, and rail, road and river transportation in the country’s most populous state were disrupted.
The weather system brought 148 liters of rainfall per square meter to parts of Germany within 48 hours, and this area usually receives 80 liters of rainfall this month.
The German Meteorological Agency issued extreme weather warnings to parts of the three western states, and the city of Hagen, with a population of 180,000, declared a state of emergency after the bank of the Worm River burst.
According to the public broadcaster WDR, the crisis team in Hagen stated that in the next few hours, the water level will reach no more than four times the level in a century, and warned everyone who lives near the river in the town to immediately move to higher local.
Parts of Hagen are described as being isolated by high water and almost inaccessible. Soldiers must be sent to clear some areas of the city. Residents were also told to leave an area in Düsseldorf, the regional capital.
A nursing home in Hagen had to be evacuated, while firefighters throughout the area were busy pumping water from hundreds of cellars. In a hospital, floods caused elevators to malfunction.
Authorities told WDR that a firefighter died when he lost his footing in the flood and was washed away. Two men aged 53 and 81 were missing elsewhere in the area.
Governor of North Rhine-Westphalia Armin Laschet (Armin Laschet) And conservative candidates to succeed Merkel, Canceled Thursday’s gathering in Bavaria and returned to his home area, where he praised the work of the rescue service.
Crossing the Belgian border, the Wedder River broke through its embankment, and a large amount of water flowed through the streets of Pepinster near Liège, destroying some buildings with its destructive power.
According to reports, in Eastern Europe on the German border, a man died after being washed away by a torrent. Another man was reported missing in eastern Belgium.
Thousands of people in the south of the Netherlands are urged to leave their homes quickly to avoid flooding, as the river is about to burst its banks.
Several towns and villages along the Meuse River in Limburg strongly recommend that people seek refuge at least until Friday afternoon, as their homes are likely to be flooded in the next few hours.
The water levels of the Meuse and Ruhr reached record levels on Thursday. In Valkenburg in the southernmost part of Limburg, near the Belgian-German border, floods have flooded the city centre, forcing the evacuation of several nursing homes and destroying at least one bridge.
The German Meteorological Agency warned on Thursday that there will be more heavy rain in Wuppertal and Ennepe-Ruhr-Kreis.
The Associated Press contributed to this report