September 20, 2021

Dozens dead in bad weather in Germany, many missing

Torrential rains and floods have left at least 59 dead and dozens missing in western Germany, where hundreds of firefighters are mobilized, Thursday, July 15, to rescue the inhabitants of several affected localities.

Chancellor Angela Merkel gave her support to the families of the deceased. ‘I am overwhelmed by the disaster that so many people have to endure in the flooded areas. My sympathy goes out to the families of the dead and missing, ‘tweeted German Chancellor spokesperson Steffen Seibert.

Deprived of electricity

Many people are missing in the district. Locals have been urged to send police videos and photos that could provide clues about their missing loved ones.

Further north, in the region of North Rhine-Westphalia, two firefighters died in intervention, while two men were drowned in their flooded cellar.

In this region, the most populous in Germany, 135,000 homes are without electricity. Due to a lack of power, the authorities undertook to evacuate the nearly 500 patients from the Leverkusen clinic.

The west of Germany was hit by torrential rains that swelled rivers, tore up trees, flooded roads and homes.

Help is trying to evacuate the victims, many of whom have taken refuge on the roofs of houses. But many accesses are blocked, complicating operations.

Authorities called on residents to stay at home if possible and ‘move to upper floors if necessary’.

A disaster

‘It’s a disaster ! There are dead, missing and many people in danger (…) ‘, alarmed the leader of the Rhineland-Palatinate region, Malu Dreyer, in a message on Twitter.

The regions of Saarland, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (northeast) have been placed on thunderstorm alert.

Tuesday, it was Bavaria, in the south of the country, which had been badly affected, the state of natural disaster having even been declared in the district of Hof, due to flooded roads.

The leader of the Greens in the Bundestag, Katrin Göring-Eckardt, said to see in this drama ‘the effects of the climate catastrophe’.

These bad weather is a ‘call for realism’: ‘It’s already there, it’s already there with us’, she said on the RTL channel, calling for an ‘urgent change’.

Belgium and Luxembourg affected

Neighboring the most affected German regions, Belgium and Luxembourg are also affected by bad weather.

Luxembourg has triggered the ‘bad weather’ plan following heavy rainfall. ‘Many’ houses are flooded and ‘more livable’ across the country and their inhabitants have been evacuated, authorities say.

Belgium has been experiencing heavy rains for several days which caused a large number of rivers in the French-speaking region of Wallonia to rise from their beds, causing flooding on Thursday. The provinces of Liège and Namur were particularly affected, the seaside resort of Spa being completely invaded by water.

In the town of Chaudfontaine, the daily Le Soir reports that nearly 1,800 people had to be evacuated.

‘We have rarely experienced such intense flooding. You have to go back to 1998 to have known this, ‘said the mayor of Chaudefontaine, Daniel Bacquelaine, on RTL radio.

The country’s rail network Infrabel said it was suspending traffic in the southern half of the country on Thursday, given the risks to travel.