Europe flooding: Search for missing people goes on as death toll tops 90

9:32am, Fri 16 Jul 2021
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The death toll from devastating floods across parts of western Germany and Belgium rose above 90 on Friday, as the search continued for hundreds of people still unaccounted for.

Authorities in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate said 50 people had died there. In neighbouring North Rhine-Westphalia, state officials put the death toll at 30, but warned that the figure could rise further.

Belgian broadcaster RTBF reported at least 12 dead in the country.

Germany Europe Weather (AP)

The flash floods this week followed days of heavy rainfall which turned streams and streets into raging torrents that swept away cars and caused houses to collapse across the region.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Joe Biden expressed their sorrow over the loss of life during a news conference at the White House late on Thursday.

The long-time German leader, who was on a farewell trip to Washington, said she feared that “the full extent of this tragedy will only be seen in the coming days”.

Belgium Europe Weather (AP)

Rescuers were rushing on Friday to help people trapped in their homes in the town of Erftstadt, southwest of Cologne, where several houses were at risk of collapse after floodwaters laid bare the foundations.

Three people were rescued from the Wurm River in Heinsberg county late on Thursday.

The governor of North Rhine-Westphalia state, Armin Laschet, has called an emergency Cabinet meeting on Friday.

The German army has deployed 900 soldiers to help with the rescue and clear-up efforts.

Thousands of people remain homeless after their houses were destroyed or deemed at-risk by authorities, including several villages around the Steinbach reservoir that experts say could collapse under the weight of the floods.

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