Germany floods: 'Catastrophe' detailed by correspondent
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Record amounts of rainfall in Western Europe has caused widespread devastation and death, with at least 80 people confirmed dead and hundreds more left unaccounted for. Germany has been the worst affected, but flooding has also caused many in the Netherlands to flee their homes.
Residents of towns and villages along the Meuse river in the province of Limburg were urgently advised to seek refuge until at least Friday.
Water levels on the Meuse and Rur rivers reached record levels on Thursday, prompting panic among locals and authorities following the devastation that has taken place in Germany over the course of this week.
In Germany, the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia are the worst hit.
Unusually heavy rains from a slow-moving low pressure system have inundated Western Europe, causing rivers to burst their banks and flooding streets in cities, towns and villages, while power was knocked out for hundreds of thousands of households.
Where are the floods in Europe?
Currently, flooding has been reported in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.
Germany’s western regions have been the worst affected, with more than 80 dead and more than 1,000 thought to be missing as of Thursday night.
German media reported at least 81 people had died in the two worst-hit states, Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, with 50 and at least 30 deaths respectively so far.
It is the country’s most devastating natural disaster in years, and with mobile networks down, it is becoming even harder to look for the missing.
Germany’s interior minister Horst Seehofer told the newspaper Spiegel that the government would seek to offer financial support to hard-hit districts as soon as possible.
Mr Seehofer said: “In my entire political career in Germany I have never seen a flood with such terrible consequences, with so many dead and missing.
“Nobody can seriously doubt that this catastrophe is related to climate change.”
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German premier Angela Merkel has pledged her support for the region and expressed her sympathies.
She said: “I grieve for those who have lost their lives in this disaster.
“We still don’t know the number, but it will be many.”
In Belgium, the situation is similarly worsening, with 11 deaths reported so far.
Terrifying footage of floods in Verviers, in eastern Belgium not far from the German border, show cars being swept away by the floodwater.
Residents of Liège, Belgium’s third-largest urban area after Brussels and Antwerp, were ordered to evacuate.
Local officials said those unable to leave should move to the upper floors of their buildings.
Casualties have not yet been reported in the Netherlands, but water levels on the Meuse and Rur rivers surpassed levels that led to large floods in 1993 and 1995, according to local authorities.
In Valkenburg, in the far south of Limburg, close to the Belgian and German border, floods had already engulfed the town centre, forcing the evacuation of several nursing homes and destroying at least one bridge.
Heavy rain is currently being reported in parts of eastern France, with officials monitoring the situation closely.
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