Floods in western Europe: Death toll tops 150, hundreds missing still
Floods in Western Europe have been sweeping through Germany, Belgium, and a few other neighbouring countries over the week. The death toll in the incident has now risen to more than 150, news agencies reported, adding that hundreds are still missing and homeless while communications remain cut off in major areas still.
Floods swept through the German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate as well as parts of Belgium and the Netherlands. After days of heavy rain, 103 people have died in Germany alone, the largest number killed in a natural disaster in the country in almost 60 years. They included 12 residents of a home for disabled people surprised by the floods during the night.
Streets and houses were submerged by water in some areas, while cars were left overturned on soaked streets after flood waters passed. Some districts were completely cut off.
In Belgium, which has declared a day of mourning on Tuesday, officials said there were at least 20 dead and another 20 missing, with more than 21,000 people left without electricity in one region.
Thousands of residents in the north of Limburg province in neighbouring Netherlands were ordered to leave their homes early Friday as floodwaters peaked. Emergency services were on high alert, and authorities were also reinforcing dikes along vulnerable stretches where floodwaters continue to rise.
Waters were receding in the southern city of Maastricht, where there was no flooding and in the town of Valkenburg, where damage was widespread, but no one was hurt. In the town of Maaseik, on the Dutch border, the Meuse had risen beyond a retaining wall and was spilling past sandbags placed on top.
Floods at the Elbe river in 2002, which at the time were billed by media as "once-in-a-century floods", killed 21 people in eastern Germany and more than 100 across the wider central European region.
(With inputs from agencies)