The death rate from devastating floods in Europe soared to at least 126 on Friday, mostly in western Germany where emergency responders were frantically searching for missing people.
Streets and houses were deluged by water in some areas, while cars were left overturned on soaked streets after flood waters passed. Some districts were completely cut off from the outside world.
Agron Berischa, a 21-year-old decorator from Bad Neuenahr in Rhineland-Palatinate state, told AFP that;
“Everything was underwater within 15 minutes,” Our flat, our office, our neighbors’ houses, everywhere was underwater. Residents were shocked by the damage as floodwaters continued to rise overnight.
Christoph Buecken in Eschweiler in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) said;
“We rushed home and found ourselves waist-deep in water. And overnight another 50 centimeters were added.”
Adding to the devastation, several more people were feared dead in a landslide in northern Germany on Friday triggered by floods.
Hundreds were unaccounted for in the country, while the death toll in Belgium jumped to 23 with more than 21,000 people left without electricity in one region.
Luxembourg and the Netherlands were also hammered by heavy rains, inundating many areas and forcing thousands to be evacuated in the city of Maastricht.
In Germany’s hard-hit Ahrweiler district in Rhineland-Palatinate, several houses collapsed completely, drawing comparisons to the aftermath of a tsunami.
At least 24 people were confirmed dead in Euskirchen, one of the worst-affected towns just to the north.
“I fear that we will only see the full extent of the disaster in the coming days,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said late Thursday from Washington, where she met with President Joe Biden.
“My empathy and my heart go out to all of those who in this catastrophe lost their loved ones, or who are still worrying about the fate of people still missing.”
The authorities said; The number of casualties in Rhineland-Palatinate has reached 60, bringing the national toll to at least 103.
In Ahrweiler, around 1,300 people were unaccounted for, although local authorities told Bild the high number was likely due to damaged phone networks.
Regional interior minister Roger Lewentz told local media that up to 60 people were believed to be missing, “and when you haven’t heard from people for such a long time… you have to fear the worst”.
“The number of victims will likely keep rising in the coming days,” he added.
Several people were dead and missing after a landslide in Erftstadt-Blessem in NRW, local officials said Friday.
“Houses were largely swept away by the water and some collapsed,” the Cologne local authority said on Twitter, while a spokeswoman for the local government told AFP there were “confirmed” deaths.
Gerd Landsberg, head of the German Association of Towns and Municipalities, said the cost of the damage was likely to run into “billions of euros”.
In Belgium, the army has been sent to four of the country’s 10 provinces to help with rescue and evacuations.
The swollen Meuse river “is going to look very dangerous for Liege”, a nearby city of 200,000 people, warned Wallonia regional president Elio Di Rupo.
In Switzerland, lakes and rivers were also swelling after heavy overnight rainfall. In Lucerne, in particular, Lake Lucerne had begun to flood the city center.
According to the World Meteorological Organization; Some parts of western Europe received up to two months’ worth of rainfall in two days on soil that was already near saturation.