German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged to fully support the country’s worst German floods victims decades ago. Recorded rains in western Europe caused rivers to overflow their banks, destroying the region.
- At least 59 people have died in German floods and hundreds more have been reported missing.
- Belgium has also reported at least 11 deaths after bad weather, with politicians blaming climate change.
Experts say that climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather, but linking any single event to global warming is complex.
Speaking during a meeting with US President Joe Biden in Washington DC, Merkel expressed “deep words of condolence” to everyone in the region who has lost loved ones after a “day of worry and despair”.
“I am afraid we will see the magnitude of this tragedy in the coming days,” he said. He pledged to support the government in its efforts to rescue and rebuild, saying to the German floods people that the government “will not leave you alone in this difficult and difficult hour”.
About 15,000 police officers, soldiers and paramedics were on the scene to assist with the search and rescue, while helicopters picked up displaced residents from the roofs and tanks and cleared the fallen tree roads and debris.
Residents in the province told AFP they were shocked by the tragedy.
“No one was expecting this – where did all this rain come from? You’re crazy,” said Annemarie Mueller, 65, who lives in Mayen. “It made a lot of noise and given how fast it came down we thought it would break the door.”
Armin Laschet, Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, blamed the worst weather on global warming during a visit to the worst-affected area.
“We will face such incidents over and over again, and that means we need to accelerate climate protection measures … because climate change is not limited to one state,” he said.
- In Belgium, significant flood paintings have shown cars being washed off the roadside in the city of Verviers.
Residents of Liège, the third largest city in Belgium after Brussels and Antwerp, are ordered to evacuate. Local authorities say those who cannot walk should move to the upper floors of their buildings.
The Meuse River, which flows through the city center, is expected to rise by another 1.5 feet [1.5 m], though it is already at its peak. Officials are also concerned that a dam bridge in the area might fall over and urge people to help each other.
- “The crisis is different and there must be unity,” a local authority said in a statement.
Belgian King Philippe and Queen Mathilde visited the trouble center in Chaudfontaine, southeast of Liège, which was built for the affected residents.
In the Netherlands, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima examined the damage in Valeknburg, near the Belgian and German floods borders, when floods flooded the city center and forced the evacuation of many nursing homes.
The country has reported no casualties but thousands of people in major cities and towns along the Meuse River have been urged to leave their homes immediately.
In the Dutch town of Maastricht, 10,000 people were ordered to evacuate.
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