The heavy rains and storms that hit western Germany since Tuesday have left at least twenty dead and 70 missing in the last hours, according to the latest data from the authorities of the affected regions. Among the dead are two firefighters. One drowned after falling into the water and another as a result of a collapse suffered while carrying out rescue work.
The storm has particularly affected the federal states of North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous in the country, and Rhineland-Palatinate, where it has caused flooding and the collapse of buildings. In addition, throughout the country there are blocked roads and a dam of a dam that has had to be reinforced due to the danger of it breaking due to the pressure of the water.
“We live in floods of catastrophic dimensions in Rhineland-Palatinate. We are a region used to floods but what we are experiencing is a catastrophe,” said the Prime Minister of that federal state, Malu Dreyer. “We are fighting to save people. The damage in the municipalities is immense.”
The municipality of Ahrweiler, about 50 kilometers from Bonn, is one of the most affected. There have been four deaths and six buildings have fallen as a result of the deterioration caused by the rains and more than twenty are in danger.
In the city of Hagen, in whose streets the water reaches the hip, according to witnesses, the electricity service has been preventively interrupted to avoid short circuits. There, a nursing home had to be evacuated after the first floor was flooded.
For its part, in Düsseldorf, the Grafenberg neighborhood had to be evacuated and a motorway is blocked after a tunnel was flooded. In addition, rail transport in the region has also been affected. And in Cologne, the Rhine has overflowed and has flooded part of the Deutz district.
The German Weather Service (DWD) expects the rains to subside. “There may still be heavy rain in some places but it will not be as widespread as last night,” said Markus Mannital of the DWD.
The floods have forced to cut the electrical service in several municipalities to avoid short circuits and rail transport has also been affected.
Since Tuesday there has been a rescue team in which 3,900 people have participated, who have had to intervene in different places on about 2,000 occasions.
At least two dead in Belgium due to the storm
Two people have died in recent hours in Belgium as a result of heavy rainfall that has caused serious disruption in some provinces, including the closure of roads and the interruption of rail transport. The most affected area is the Wallonia region, and in particular the provinces of Liège (east of the country) – currently under red alert and where both deaths have occurred – and Luxembourg (south).
The inhabitants of different Walloon towns have had to be evacuated, as well as hundreds of young people who were in summer camps. The Belgian authorities have asked the population of the most affected areas to be very careful and to avoid any non-essential displacement.
In Luxembourg, the rains have caused serious disturbances that have been evaluated this morning at a meeting of the country’s crisis cell.
Although the meteorological situation has calmed down in the last hours, this Thursday the risk of an increase in the water level persists, the Luxembourg Ministry of the Interior said in a statement, which recommends that the population remain “vigilant” and avoid exposing yourself to hazards.