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World 'Many still in danger': At least 100 dead across Germany and Belgium after floods amid warning dam could burst

14:34  16 july  2021
14:34  16 july  2021 Source:   news.sky.com

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a truck driving down a dirt road: More than 100 people have died in Germany due to the floods. Pics: Thomas Frey/dpa/AP/Reuters/Sebastian Schmitt/picture-alliance © Associated Press More than 100 people have died in Germany due to the floods. Pics: Thomas Frey/dpa/AP/Reuters/Sebastian Schmitt/picture-alliance

At least 100 people have been killed and dozens are missing after catastrophic flooding across Germany and Belgium, which has left several villages cut off and sparked fears that a dam could burst.

Officials have warned communities in both countries "are still in danger" following Thursday's catastrophe, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel expecting "many" more deaths amid further rainstorm warnings for Friday.

The total number killed in Germany alone has risen to at least 103, according to Reuters news agency, citing officials, with communities across the North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate states affected.

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Among the worst-hit areas is Ahrweiler county, south of Cologne, where several homes collapsed in the village of Schuld and authorities say around 1,300 people are unaccounted for.

In Belgium, 14 deaths have been reported, where authorities have warned people living in the south and east to avoid all travel.

a view of a large rock: Flooding in Erfstadt, southwest of Cologne. Pic: District Government Cologne © Other Flooding in Erfstadt, southwest of Cologne. Pic: District Government Cologne

"The waters are rising more and more. It's scary," Thierry Bourgeois, 52, said in the Belgian town of Liege.

Entire communities lie in ruins after rivers burst their banks and swept through towns and villages - washing away people's homes and cars, flooding basements and causing widespread devastation - following days of torrential rain.

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Thousands of people remain homeless after their houses were destroyed or deemed at-risk by officials.

The search for survivors continues and to help those trapped in houses at risk of collapse.

Around 900 German troops have been deployed to help the rescue and clean-up efforts.

Communities have been left devastated by the disaster © Reuters Communities have been left devastated by the disaster

The soldiers have been joined in their efforts by police helicopters, as they work to save people who have been left stranded by the high waters.

a group of people in front of a house: Heavy rain and severe flooding caused several homes to collapse in Schuld in the district of Ahrweiler, in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany © Reuters Heavy rain and severe flooding caused several homes to collapse in Schuld in the district of Ahrweiler, in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Some buildings have been reduced to rubble as old brick and timber houses couldn't withstand the flash floods.

In the town of Erftstadt, southwest of Cologne, aerial pictures showed what appeared to be a massive sinkhole.

Karl-Heinz Grimm, who had come to help his parents in Schuld, said he had never seen the Ahr river surge in such a deadly torrent. "It was like madness," he said.

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"It was so terrible, we couldn't help anyone. People were waving out of the windows," said Frank Thel, a resident of Schuld, where several buildings had collapsed.

Earlier today, several houses collapsed in Erfstadt in North Rhine-Westphalia and rescuers were struggling to help families who had returned to their homes despite the warnings, Cologne district government officials said on Facebook.

a boat sitting on top of a car: Damaged cars and debris in a flooded street in Pepinster, Belgium © Reuters Damaged cars and debris in a flooded street in Pepinster, Belgium

Authorities in Rhine-Sieg county, south of Cologne, ordered the evacuation of several villages below the Steinbach reservoir amid fears the dam there could break.

One dam close to the Belgium border, the Rurtalsperre, was flooded overnight while another, the Steinbachtalsperre, has been stabilised.

The deluge of rain and flooding has disrupted rail, road and river transport, with shipping suspended on the Rhine river.

The full extent of the damage in the regions affected remains unclear as many remote areas remain cut off by floodwater and landslides that have made roads impassable, hampering rescue operations.

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Some 114,000 properties in western Germany and 20,000 in the southern Belgium are without power.

Mobile phone networks and internet connections are also down in flood-stricken regions, leaving family and friends unable to contact their loved ones.

"I grieve for those who have lost their lives in this disaster," said Ms Merkel, who has promised help for communities, during a visit to Washington

"We still don't know the number, but it will be many. The full extent of this tragedy will only be seen in the coming days."

a car parked in front of a large rock: Cars lie in a washed out part of the Bessem district of Erftstadt, Germany. Pic: David Young/dpa/AP © Associated Press Cars lie in a washed out part of the Bessem district of Erftstadt, Germany. Pic: David Young/dpa/AP

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was "stunned" by the devastation and also pledged support to the families of those killed and to cities and towns facing significant damage.

"In the hour of need, our country stands together," he said. "It's important that we show solidarity for those from whom the flood has taken everything."

The governor of Rhineland-Palatinate state, Malu Dreyer, said the "suffering just keeps increasing", adding that more than 50 people have died in her state alone.

She told the regional parliament: "There are people dead, there are people missing, there are many who are still in danger.

floods in Europe: more than 150 deaths, research continues to find the missing

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"We have never seen such a disaster. It's really devastating.

Local officials have blamed climate change for the disaster, with Armin Laschet, premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, saying of the extreme weather: "We will be faced with such events over and over, and that means we need to speed up climate protection measures, on European, federal and global levels, because climate change isn't confined to one state."

Ms Dreyer told the Funke media group: "We've experienced droughts, heavy rain and flooding events several years in a row, including in our state.

"Climate change isn't abstract anymore. We are experiencing it up close and painfully."

In Belgium, around 10 houses collapsed in Pepinster after the river Vesdre flooded the eastern Belgian town and residents were evacuated from more than 1,000 homes.

People living near the Meuse river in Liege, a city of 200,000, have been urged to move to higher ground, while traffic on the major waterway has been suspended as it threatens to breach its banks.

The heavy rainfall, which has been described as unprecedented by experts, has extended into France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands too, while parts of Switzerland are on alert.

In the southern Dutch province of Limburg, troops piled sandbags to strengthen a long stretch of the embankment along the Maas river and police helped evacuate some low-lying neighbourhoods.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said of the flooding across western Europe: "It is the intensity and the length of the events that science tells us this is a clear indication of climate change and that this is something that really, really shows the urgency to act.

ten days after the floods in Belgium, the controversies multiply .
© AP - Valentin Bianchi The Belgian city of spa, flooded by the diluvian rains that hit the country between the 14th and 16th of July, 2021. Belgian newspapers And social networks are full of issues on the causes of the floods that have recently struck the country, but also on their management, and supply as many controversy. With our correspondent in Brussels, Pierre Bénazet for part of the Belgian opinion, politicians found an unstoppable excuse to discard by accusing climate change.

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