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More Than One Hundred Dead in European Floods; Hundreds Missing

The city of Geul in the Netherlands completely flooded after torrential rains of the last several days. Credit: Romaine /CC0

A total of 118 people have now been declared dead in the floods that have ravaged Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium over the past several days.

All of Western Europe is inundated with floodwaters, with rescue crews combing devastated areas in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Deluges of rains have made rivers burst their banks and wash away roads, cover entire villages and sweep away vehicles in these three countries, where some sources say at least 1,300 are now missing.

Streets and homes in the Netherlands and Switzerland were also inundated by the raging waters. On Friday, the death toll from the flooding rose to 118, but as some officials say, it is impossible to determine the exact number of the missing.

Along with the German death toll of 103, at least 15 individuals are now known to have succumbed to the floodwaters in Belgium.

Germany’s most populous area, North-Rhine Westphalia, was hit particularly hard while the Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland regions are also suffering under the record flooding.

On Friday afternoon, at least 165,000 people are without power in the Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, where the state’s Interior Ministry spokesperson Katja Heins told reporters from CNN that ”The situation remains very dynamic — we do not know how many people are unaccounted for.”

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed his sorrow for the lives destroyed in the floods, extending the condolences of the Greek people to the families of all the victims, in a message he posted on social media.

“The aftermath of the devastating floods in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg is heartbreaking. Our thoughts are with our fellow Europeans dealing with this disaster. On behalf of the Greek people, I extend my deepest condolences to the families of the victims,” Mitsotakis stated.

German authorities had admitted late on Thursday that after confirming the many deaths that had occurred, they were still unable to account for the whereabouts of at least 1,300 individuals.

The raging waters — now full of sewage runoff that occurred as a result of the flooding, swept through the ancient cities and villages in western Germany.

European Floods Linked to Climate Change

Now that electricity has been cut off, it will be even more difficult to determine the whereabouts of those who are presumed missing and to locate those who might still need help.

Meanwhile, Belgium, which along with the Netherlands is an extremely low-lying country, is also suffering greatly from the flooding, with 11 people now confirmed dead as of Friday afternoon. Residents of downtown Liege, an ancient city along the Meuse River, were ordered to evacuate as the waterway topped its banks.

Those who engage on behalf of the environment, along with politicians, have already cautioned that the devastation in the heart of Europe was a direct result of climate change.

The deadly flooding comes just days after the European Union laid out its ambitious blueprint to move away from fossil fuels over the next nine years. The scheme is part of an overall plans to make the bloc completely carbon-neutral by the year 2050.

For now, hundreds of firefighters, emergency responders and even soldiers are frantically attempting to save residents from the upper floors and rooftops of their homes. Others are filling sandbags to help make whatever barrier they can against the still-rising waters.

In Germany’s Ahrweiler region, where the floods swept through the village of Schuld, a total of six houses were completely washed away while others appear to be near collapse.

According to German police authorities, the area was particularly cruelly affected, with as many as 50 people losing their lives in that district alone.

Officials cautioned that considering the devastation wrought by the waters, the death toll will certainly rise further.

“Given the complexity of the level of damage, it is not possible at this time to make a final assessment of the situation,” they said.

Armin Laschet, the governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, told reporters “We have no exact numbers of dead, but can say that we have many people who have become victims of this flood.

“Many people lost everything that they own after the mud flowed into their homes.”

Late on Friday, Dutch officials decided that a hospital in Venray, the Netherlands, had to be evacuated because of the risk posed by the floods. This will involve the moving of 200 patients, according to safety officials for North Limburg.

The officials stated that the patients will be transferred to other hospitals beginning on Friday afternoon, and those who are experiencing medial emergencies will be directed to other hospitals beginning at 6 PM local time.

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