Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, October 28th, 2021

Europe Floods: Death Toll over 110 as Rescues Continue

Europe Floods: Death Toll over 110  as Rescues Continue

BERLIN - At least 110 people have died in devastating floods across parts of western Germany and Belgium, officials said Friday, as search and rescue operations continued for hundreds more still unaccounted for or in danger.
Authorities in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate said 60 people had died there, including 12 residents of an assisted living facility for people with disabilities in the town of Sinzig who were surprised by a sudden rush of water from the nearby river Ahr. In neighboring North Rhine-Westphalia state officials put the death toll at 43, but warned that the figure could increase.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was “stunned” by the devastation caused by the flooding and pledged support to the families of those killed and to cities and towns facing significant damage.
“In the hour of need, our country stands together,” Steinmeier said in a statement Friday afternoon. “It’s important that we show solidarity for those from whom the flood has taken everything.”
Rescuers rushed Friday to help people trapped in their homes in the town of Erftstadt, southwest of Cologne. Regional authorities said several people had died after their houses collapsed when the ground beneath them sank suddenly. Aerial photos showed what appeared to be a massive sinkhole.
“We managed to get 50 people out of their houses last night,” county administrator Frank Rock said. “We know of 15 people who still need to be rescued.”
Speaking to German broadcaster n-tv, Rock said that authorities had no precise number yet for how many had died.
“One has to assume that under the circumstances some people didn’t manage to escape,” he said.
Authorities said late Thursday that about 1,300 people in Germany were listed as missing, but they cautioned that the high number could be due to duplicated reports and difficulties reaching people because of disrupted roads and phone service.
In a provisional tally, the death toll in Belgium rose to 12 and five people were missing, local authorities and media reported early Friday. Most of the drowning victims were found around Liege, where the rain hit hardest.
Flash floods this week followed days of heavy rainfall which turned streams and streets into raging torrents that swept away cars and caused houses to collapse across the region.
Thousands of people remained homeless in Germany after their houses were destroyed or deemed at-risk by authorities, including several villages around the Steinbach reservoir that experts say could collapse under the weight of the floods.
The governor of Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia state, Armin Laschet, called an emergency Cabinet meeting Friday. The 60-year-old’s handling of the flood disaster is widely seen as a test for his ambitions to succeed German Chancellor Angela Merkel after the country’s national election on Sept. 26. (AP)