The toll of devastating weather in Europe climbed Friday, July 16 to 93 dead, most in Germany, where help continues to search for hundreds of people missing.
In western Germany, an area particularly affected by flooding caused by torrential rains, the number of victims increased to settle, a priori temporarily, at 81, according to the police. “I’m afraid we won’t see the full extent of the disaster until the next few days”Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Thursday evening from Washington, where she is visiting. “The floods of death”, posted on his Friday the daily picture, the most widely read in Germany, after the torrential rains that fell in several regions, sowing desolation and terror among the inhabitants surprised by the sudden floods.
Belgium, with at least 12 dead, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, where several districts of Maastricht had to be evacuated, were also severely affected by bad weather in Europe, which left at least 93 dead.
Germany is paying the heaviest price. In Rhineland-Palatinate, one of the most affected regions, the number of deaths recorded on Friday morning rose from 28 to 50. And the toll is likely to rise due to the number of people still missing in Rhineland-du- North-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate.
In the latter region alone, authorities said they still had no news of 1,300 people in the worst-hit canton, Ahrweiler. However, a spokesperson quoted by picture blamed this figure on telephone network disruptions, which prevent many residents from being reached. Concretely, “We are still counting on forty, fifty or sixty missing persons, and when you have people who have not given a sign of life for so long (…), we must fear the worst ”Land Minister Roger Lewentz told SWR television. “As a result, the number of victims is likely to increase further in the coming days”, he warned.
In addition, it must continue to rain in parts of the west of the country. And the level of the Rhine and several of its tributaries is rising dangerously.
Field of ruins
The torrential rains swelled rivers, tore up trees, flooded roads and houses. Nearly a thousand soldiers have been mobilized to help with relief and clearing operations in towns and villages, all of which offer the same spectacle of desolation: streets and houses under water, overturned cars, uprooted trees. Many neighborhoods also remained cut off from the world on Friday.
In Ahrweiler, several houses literally collapsed. Under the rubble, the city gives the feeling of having been on the road to a tsunami. Euskirchen, a little further north, is probably one of the worst hit towns, with at least 20 dead. The city center looks like a field of ruins, the facades of the houses literally torn apart by the floods. What’s more, a nearby roadblock threatens to give way.
These bad weather have placed the issue of global warming at the center of the electoral campaign, which is in full swing in Germany in view of the legislative elections of September 26, at the end of which Angela Merkel will leave power. “These extreme weather vagaries are the consequences of climate change”, said the Minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer, for whom Germany must “Prepare much better”. “We must speed up climate protection measures, at European, national and global level”, claimed Armin Laschet, candidate of the Conservative party of Mme Merkel and favorite to succeed him in view of the polls.
A warmer atmosphere retains more water and can cause extreme rainfall. These can have particularly devastating consequences in urban areas, in the presence of poorly drained waterways and buildings in flood-prone areas.
At least 12 dead in Belgium
Neighbors of the most affected German regions, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are also affected. In Belgium, the floods, which mainly affect the east and south of the country, killed at least 12 people, and 5 people were missing, according to a report established Friday morning by RTBF.
The army was deployed in four of the ten provinces of the country to participate in the relief efforts, in particular in the numerous evacuations. Tents have been made available to relocate residents of Spa, a city flooded since Wednesday.
Wallonia, a French-speaking region in southern Belgium, is particularly affected. More than 21,000 people were deprived of electricity in the region, according to the manager of the electricity and gas distribution networks in Wallonia, reporting the flooding of hundreds of distribution cabins. According to the federal police, dozens of road sections remained closed to traffic, as well as a major part of the railways in Wallonia.
In Liège, Belgium’s fourth most populous city, local authorities called on Thursday afternoon for thousands of residents of neighborhoods bordering the Meuse to leave their homes, in anticipation of a sharp rise in the level of the river. The water level in the city center ultimately did not rise overnight and began to drop. ” slowly “ in the most affected district, the Liège police announced on Friday morning, recalling that many surrounding roads remained closed.