The death toll caused by the catastrophic flooding in western Germany and Belgium Local authorities said it has risen to more than 125 because the emergency services continue to search for hundreds of people who are still missing.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was “shocked” by the damage caused by the flood and pledged to support the families of the victims and the severely damaged towns.
“Our country stands together in times of need,” Steinmeier said Friday afternoon. “It is important that we express our solidarity with the people who have been taken away by the flood.”
Authorities in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate state that 63 people died there, including at least 12 residents of assisted living facilities for the disabled, while the neighboring state of North Rhine-Westphalia set the death toll at 43 .
Officials warned that these numbers may rise further. Approximately 1,300 people in the Ahrweiler district of Rhineland-Palatinate are unaccounted for, but attempts to contact them have been blocked by damage to the telephone network.
Experts said that the European Flood Warning System (EFAS) issued an extreme flood warning earlier this week and questioned why the death toll was so high. Hydrologist Hannah Cloke Tell Politico This disaster was “a huge failure of the system”.
The German Meteorological Agency DWD stated that it had passed the warning to the local authorities, which should have been responsible for organizing any necessary evacuation.The Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer said Germany In the future, “must be better prepared”, adding that “this is the result of climate change.”
Steinmeier called for greater efforts to combat global warming. “Only if we take the fight against climate change decisively, can we limit the extreme weather conditions we are now experiencing,” he said.
Experts say that due to climate change, such disasters may occur more frequently. “Some parts of the west Europe …Received two months of rain within two days,” said Clare Nullis, spokesperson for the World Meteorological Organization.
Although she said that it is too early to blame global warming for floods and previous heat waves, Nullis stated that the climate crisis “is increasing the frequency of extreme events, and many single events have been shown to be made worse by global warming.” .”
The Belgian Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden stated that the death toll in the country has risen to 20 and another 20 are missing. Although the residents of the Central Region and the Meuse River were ordered to evacuate, most of the dead were found near the city of Liège, which has a population of 200,000.
Verlinden said that the water level of the Meuse River that flows into the Netherlands is still critical. She said: “There are many dikes on the Meuse River, whether they will collapse or not, they are very reliable.”
The army has been sent to four of the country’s 10 provinces to assist in rescue operations and evacuation, as well as emergency rescue teams from Italy and France. Residents of some towns, including resorts that have been underwater since late Wednesday, were placed in tents.
Although they have not suffered any loss of life so far, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have also been severely affected. Flash floods hit the Swiss villages of Schlettheim and Beckingen. Several towns in the Grand Duchy were evacuated on Thursday. Thousands of people were told Leaving their home in the southern city of Maastricht in the Netherlands.
The water level of the Maas River is called the Meuse River in Dutch. It reached the highest predicted height in Maastricht on Thursday night, but it was still lower than what the authorities called the “doom scenario”, avoiding widespread flooding. .
At least 550 families in Roermond were evacuated, and the Venlo authorities evacuated about 200 hospitalized patients due to the threat of river flooding. The caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte officially declared a disaster and freed up state funds to cover the losses.
The highest number of deaths so far is in Germany, where 114,000 homes have lost power. On Friday, rescuers are focusing on helping people trapped in their homes in the town of Erftstadt in southwest Cologne.
Local authorities said several people died or were reported missing after their houses collapsed when the ground under their feet suddenly sank in a major landslide. The aerial photos showed a huge sinkhole.
“Last night we managed to get 50 people out of their house,” local official Frank Rock said. “We know that 15 people still need to be rescued… One must assume that in this case, some people have not escaped.”
The roads around Erftstadt were impassable. Rescuers tried to reach residents by boat and had to rely on walkie-talkies for communication. “The mobile network has collapsed. The infrastructure has collapsed. The hospital cannot accommodate anyone. The nursing home must be evacuated,” said a spokesperson for the Cologne regional government.
More rainfall is expected in parts of the region, and the water level of the Rhine and its tributaries will continue to rise. Nearly 1,000 soldiers have been deployed to help disaster-stricken towns and villages carry out rescue operations and clean up rubble.
In Yuskirchen, one of the worst-hit towns, at least 24 people have been confirmed dead. Reporters on the scene described a normally orderly center turned into a pile of rubble, and the front of the house was washed away by the flood.
Thousands of people are still homeless after their houses were destroyed or deemed in danger by the authorities, including several villages around the Steinbach Reservoir, which experts say may have collapsed under the weight of the flood.
“I worry that we will only see the full scope of the disaster in the next few days,” the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, Said in Washington late Thursday that she was visiting Joe Biden there, calling the day “characterized by fear, despair and pain.”
She said her government would not let the affected people “suffer the pain alone” and added that it “does its best to help them out of their troubles”.
The conservative governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, will hold an emergency cabinet meeting on Friday. He will succeed Merkel as prime minister in the September election.
“The reality is that extreme weather events will affect our daily lives more strongly in the future,” Raschelt said, adding: “We must continue on the road to climate neutrality in Germany at a faster speed. “
But he also said that the problems caused by the climate crisis “cannot be solved in North Rhine Westphalia or Germany.” Rhineland-Palatinate Governor Malu Dreyer stated that climate change “is no longer abstract. We are experiencing it up close and painfully.”