Posted July 17, 2021 1:18 pm by

Germany picks through rubble after deadly European floods

The real scale of the disaster is gradually becoming clear © AFP / CHRISTOF STACHE

Schuld (Germany) (AFP), Jul 17 – Rescue workers scrambled Saturday to find survivors and victims of the devastation wreaked by the worst floods to hit western Europe in living memory, which have already left more than 150 people dead and dozens more missing.

Western Germany has suffered the most brutal impact of the deluge that also pummelled Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, leaving streets and homes submerged in muddy water and isolating entire communities.

With the death toll in Germany at 133 three days into the disaster, rescuers said far more bodies were likely to be found in sodden cellars and collapsed homes.

“We have to assume we will find further victims,” said Carolin Weitzel, mayor of Erftstadt, where a terrifying landslide was triggered by the floods.

Germany picks through rubble after deadly European floods

A destroyed car in a cemetery in the Germany town of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler © AFP / CHRISTOF STACHE

In Germany’s worst-hit states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, residents who fled the deluge were gradually returning to their homes and scenes of desolation on Saturday.

“Within minutes, a wave was in the house,” baker Cornelia Schloesser told AFP of the torrents that arrived in the town of Schuld, carrying her century-old family business with them.

“It’s all been a nightmare for 48 hours, we’re going round in circles here but we can’t do anything,” she said, surveying the heaps of twisted metal, broken glass and wood that have piled up at her former storefront.

In neighbouring Belgium, the death toll jumped to 20 with up to 20 people still missing and more than 21,000 left without electricity in one region.

Germany picks through rubble after deadly European floods

Severe weather in Europe © AFP

Prime Minister Alexander de Croo was heading for the scene of what he has called “unprecedented” flood damage. He has declared Tuesday a day of official mourning.

Luxembourg and the Netherlands were also hammered by heavy rains, inundating many areas and forcing thousands to be evacuated in the city of Maastricht.

– ‘Immense’ task –

A burst dam in Germany’s Heinsberg district 65 kilometres (40 miles) southwest of Duesseldorf overnight prompted the emergency evacuation of more than 700 residents.

In some affected areas, firefighters, local officials and Read More…