Flooding in Western Europe this week caused by heavy rainfall has killed more than 160 people as of Saturday, with the death toll expected to further increase as receding waters begin to reveal the extent of the massive damage that has occurred.
Rescue workers searched flood-ravaged parts of western Germany for survivors on Saturday as water levels remained high in many towns and houses continued to collapse in the country’s worst natural disaster in half a century.
Over 90 people have died in the flooding in the Ahrweiler district south of Cologne, according to police estimates on Saturday. Hundreds of people are still missing.
Around 700 residents were evacuated late Friday after a dam broke in the town of Wassenberg, near Cologne, according to authorities.
The most hard-hit states of Rhineland Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, have cut off entire communities from power and communications. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Armin Laschet, state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, were scheduled to visit Erfstadt, one of the hardest hit towns, on Saturday.
The flooding has also hit parts of Belgium and the Netherlands. At least 20 people have died in Belgium. Belgian state broadcaster RTBF reported that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo were also expected to visit towns devastated by the flooding.
Ursula von der Leyen tweeted, “My thoughts are with the families of the victims of the devastating floods in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands and those who have lost their homes.”
While Germany and Belgium have been hit the hardest by the severe flooding, parts of the Netherlands and Luxembourg have also been impacted.
According to the AP, The Netherlands’ Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, said that region hit by flooding this week has been impacted by “three disasters.”
He said, “First there was corona, now these floods, and soon people will have to work on cleanup and recovery. It is disaster after disaster after disaster.”