Shocking images of the devastation in Germany and Belgium showed entire villages under water, cars between collapsed buildings and rubble. The Netherlands and Luxembourg are also affected by the extreme rainfall.
In Germany, at least 105 people have died in two western federal states. In the badly affected district of Ahrweiler in Rhineland-Palatinate, 1,300 people were missing according to the authorities told CNN.
“There is no end in sight,” Ulrich Sopart, police spokesman for the city of Koblenz, told CNN. He said authorities hope they can reduce the number of missing people if the rescue operation continues and phone lines are restored.
“We hope that some people have been reported missing twice or even three times – for example, when a family member, work colleague or friend has reported a person missing,” said Sopart.
”Likewise, [in] In some places the phone lines are still broken and reception is difficult. We hope people will get in touch with a relative, work colleague or friend to let them know they are fine, “he said.
According to the state government, a dam along the Rur in the west German state of North Rhine-Westphalia broke on Friday evening. Officials have started evacuating around 700 residents in the Ophoven district of the city of Wassenberg.
Officials fear that more dams could break and are closely monitoring the reservoirs in the region.
Many without electricity
At least 165,000 people are currently without electricity in Rhineland-Palatinate and neighboring North Rhine-Westphalia, authorities told CNN.
in the North Rhine-Westphalia, where at least 43 people have died, said the spokeswoman for the state’s interior ministry, Katja Heins, to CNN: “The situation remains very dynamic – we do not know how many people are missing.”
The death toll in Rhineland-Palatinate has risen to at least 62, according to the police, who announced on Friday that at least 362 people were injured.
Prime Minister Malu Dreyer said that every hour brings bad news. “It is to be feared that the number will continue to rise,” said Dreyer at a press conference and added: “We are not yet ready to speak of an easing of the situation.”
As rescue efforts continued on Friday, more tragic scenes came to light.
At least nine people drowned in a disabled facility after getting caught in floods. The facility in the town of Sinzig in the Ahrweiler district was flooded so quickly that the sleeping residents were unable to escape despite efforts by the caretakers to get them to safety, according to CNN subsidiary NTV.
The federal states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland are hardest hit by the record rainfall. which authorities have named the heaviest in a century.
“In some areas we have not seen so much precipitation for 100 years,” said a spokesman for the German weather service DWD collapse.
According to CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller, large parts of western Germany had 24-hour rainfall between 100 and 150 millimeters (3.9-5.9 inches), the equivalent of more than a month of rain in this region.
Cologne in North Rhine-Westphalia recorded 154 millimeters of precipitation in the 24 hours up to Thursday morning, which is almost double the monthly average for July of 87 millimeters.
Heavy local rains led to extreme flash floods. In Reifferscheid in the Ahrweiler district, an unbelievable 207 millimeters of rain fell in just nine hours, according to the European storm database.
The heavy floods were the result of a slowly flowing low pressure area that, according to the German Weather Service, led a conveyor belt of warm and humid air to strong thunderstorms and heavy, long-lasting rains.
“Climate change has arrived in Germany”
Extreme rainfall is becoming more common in the warming climate as warmer air can hold more water vapor that is available as rain.
“Climate change has arrived in Germany,” tweeted Environment Minister Svenja Schulze on Thursday. The addition “The events show the force with which the consequences of climate change can affect us all and how important it is for us to adapt to extreme weather events in the future.”
Hannah Cloke, a professor of hydrology at the University of Reading, UK, told CNN that “these types of high-energy, sudden summer rains are exactly what we expect in our rapidly warming climate.”
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said on Friday that the widespread flooding was evidence of the urgency of acting against climate change. “It’s the intensity and duration of events that science tells us is a clear indication of climate change and that it really, really shows the urgency to act,” she said.
On Thursday the DWD forecast that the “worst of the torrential rains are over”, although more heavy rains are expected in southwest Germany on Friday.
According to the Interior Ministry, at least 20 people have died in neighboring Belgium. The mayor of the hard-hit city of Liège had set the toll at 22 on Friday. In the southern region of Wallonia, too, around 21,000 people are without electricity, according to the energy supplier Ores. extremely complicated. “Around 300 distribution points were flooded and inaccessible, it said.
“There is no more time to leave the house”
On Friday afternoon, a Dutch dam broke in the province of Zuid-Limburg, with local authorities urging local residents to take urgent action.
After a large hole was found in a dike along the Juliana Canal, the regional security agency urgently warned residents to close all windows and doors as there was insufficient time for an evacuation.
“The residents of Bunde, Voulwames, Brommelen and Geulle must close windows and doors as quickly as possible and move to a safe floor in their house,” said the security agency’s statement.
“There is no time to leave home,” it said, adding, “This area will be under water.”
Meanwhile, a hospital in the Dutch city of Venray in North Limburg was evacuated on Friday afternoon. Around 200 patients would be transferred to other hospitals, said the regional safety authority.
More than 150 rescue workers from France, Italy and Austria are currently in Belgium to “provide emergency aid to the people affected by the flood disaster,” said the European Commission.
Nadine Schmidt reported from Berlin and Vasco Cotovio from Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler. Barbara Wojazer reported from Paris and Sharon Braithwaite from London. Susanna Capelouto, Kara Fox, James Frater, and Melissa Gray contributed to this report.