GERMANY/BERLIN: More than 120 people have died in devastating floods across parts of Germany and Belgium. The officials launched a search team to find hundreds of civilians who are still in danger.
According to the reports, the authorities in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate said that over 60 people had died.
Around 12 residents of an assisted living facility for people with disabilities in the town of Sinzig were also among the dead. The residents were surprised by a sudden rush of water from the nearby river Ahr.
In neighboring, North Rhine-Westphalia state officials put the death toll at 43 but warned that the figure could increase.
Meanwhile, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed his shock and said that he was stunned by the flooding and pledged support to the families of those killed.
“In the hour of need, our country stands together,” Steinmeier said in a statement on Friday afternoon. “It’s important that we show solidarity for those from whom the flood has taken everything.”
On Friday, rescuers rushed to help people trapped in their homes in the town of Erftstadt, southwest of Cologne. Regional authorities said that several people had died after their houses collapsed when the ground beneath them sank suddenly.
“We managed to get 50 people out of their houses last night,” county administrator Frank Rock said. “We know of 15 people who still need to be rescued.”
Speaking to German broadcaster n-tv, Rock said that authorities had no precise number yet for how many had died.
According to the authorities, about 1,300 people in Germany were listed as missing on Thursday. However, the authorities said that the high number could be due to duplicated reports.
After Germany, Belgium was the hardest hit by the floods that caused homes to be ripped away and roads to be turned into wild rivers.
Belgian Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden said that the country’s official confirmed death toll has grown to 18.
“Water levels on the Meuse river that runs from Belgium into the Netherlands remains critical, and several dikes are at risk of collapsing. Authorities in the southern Dutch town of Venlo evacuated some 200 hospital patients due to the looming threat of flooding from the river,” Verlinden said.
Thousands of people remained homeless in Germany 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.
Malu Dreyer, the governor of Rhineland-Palatinate state, said the disaster showed the need to speed up efforts to curb global warming.
“Climate change isn’t abstract anymore. We are experiencing it up close and painfully,” she said.