London, July 16, 2021 (AltAfrica)-Heavy rains and floods lashing western Europe have killed at least 59 people in Germany and eight in Belgium, and many more people are missing as rising waters caused several houses to collapse on Thursday.
Cars were tossed around by the floodwaters in Belgium and neighbouring Germany © BELGA/AFP / ANTHONY DEHEZ
Unusually heavy rains also inundated neighbouring Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Belgium, where at least four people were reported dead and people were ordered to evacuate a riverbank in one city.
In Germany, which is experiencing one of the worst weather disasters since World War II, desperate residents sought refuge on the roofs of their homes as rescue helicopters circled above.
Pensioner Annemarie Mueller, 65, looking out at her flooded garden and garage from her balcony, said her town of Mayen had been completely unprepared for the destruction.
“Where did all this rain come from? It’s crazy,” she told AFP, recalling the floodwater crashing through her street during the night.
At least 31 people were killed in Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia © AFP / INA FASSBENDER “It made such a loud noise and given how fast it came down, we thought it would break the door down.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel, on a visit to Washington, said she was “shocked” by the humanitarian “disaster”, calling it a “tragedy” for the nation.
She vowed that the government would do “everything in its power to, under the most difficult circumstances, save lives, prevent danger and ease suffering”.
North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) premier Armin Laschet, who is running to succeed Merkel in September elections, cancelled a party meeting in Bavaria to survey the damage in his state, Germany’s most populous.
“We will stand by the towns and people who’ve been affected,” Laschet, clad in rubber boots, told reporters in the town of Hagen.
He called for “speeding up” global efforts to fight climate change, underlining the link between global warming and extreme weather.
Because a warmer atmosphere holds more water, climate change increases the risk and intensity of flooding from extreme rainfall.
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