Death toll from floods in Europe rises above 150

Photo: AP A Leopard armored recovery vehicle of the Bundeswehr works in Schuld, Germany, to clear debris, 16 July 2021.

The death toll from disastrous flooding in Western Europe rose above 150 on Saturday as rescue workers toiled to clear up the devastation and prevent further damage, AP reported. Police said that more than 90 people are now known to have died in western Germany’s Ahrweiler county, one of the worst-hit areas, and more casualties are feared. On Friday, authorities gave a death toll of 63 for the whole of Rhineland-Palatinate state, where Ahrweiler is located.

Another 43 people were confirmed dead in neighboring North Rhine-Westphalia state, Germany’s most populous, and 20 others were killed across the border in Belgium.

By Saturday, waters were receding across much of the affected regions, but officials feared that more bodies might be found in cars and trucks that were swept away.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier planned to travel on Saturday to Erftstadt, southwest of Cologne, where a harrowing rescue effort unfolded on Friday as people were trapped when the ground gave way and their homes collapsed. He will join there North Rhine Westphalia’s state premier Armin Laschet, dpa reported. Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged support for those affected by flooding during a Friday video conference with Laschet, who is also the frontrunner to succeed her at the September election.

Belgium’s PM Alexander de Croo on Saturday headed for the scene of what he has branded “unprecedented” flood damage in the country's east. De Croo was to be joined by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen in the river valleys of eastern Belgium near the border with her native Germany, news wires reported.

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