Europe floods: At least 120 dead and hundreds unaccounted for

Friday, July 16th, 2021 17:39 |

At least 120 people have died and hundreds more in western Europe are unaccounted for after some of the worst flooding in decades.

Record rainfall caused rivers to burst their banks, devastating the region.

In Germany, where the death toll now stands at over 100, Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a determined battle against climate change.

Belgian media is reporting 22 deaths there. The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland are also affected.

In Germany, the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia were the worst-hit.

Scientists have repeatedly warned that human-induced climate change would bring pulses of extreme rainfall such as this one.

German President Frank Walter Steinmeier also called for action on climate change, saying: "Only if we take up the fight against climate change decisively will we be able to keep extreme weather conditions such as we are experiencing now in check."

In the western German district of Ahrweiler, up to 1,300 people are unaccounted for, the authorities say. A spokeswoman for the local government said mobile networks had been put out of action, making it impossible to contact many people.

The village of Schuld (population 700) was almost entirely destroyed. In the town of Erfstadt-Blessem, near Cologne, floodwaters caused a row of houses to collapse. Local authorities said they were receiving emergency calls from people trapped by floodwater but rescue was in many cases not possible.

In the town of Sinzig, 12 out of 35 residents in a care home for disabled people died after flood waters swept through the building as they slept.

A major dam near the Belgian border, the Rurtalsperre, overflowed slightly but did not break, officials said.

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