Devastating floods claim at least 170 lives in Europe
By Our Correspondent, 18/07/2021, Luxembourg

Devastating floods have killed at least 150 people in Europe, most of them in western Germany where stunned emergency services were still combing the wreckage.

Roger Lewentz, interior minister for Rheinland-Palatinate, told media that the death toll was likely to rise as emergency services continued to search the affected areas over the coming days.

With five more dead found in the state by Friday evening, the nationwide death count mounted to 108.

Adding to the devastation, several more people were feared dead in a landslide in the town of Erftstadt in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) triggered by the floods.

In neighbouring Belgium, the government confirmed the death count had jumped to 20, earlier reports had said 23 dead, with more than 21,000 people left without electricity in one region.

Calling the floods possibly the most catastrophic their country has ever seen, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo declared Tuesday a day of national mourning.

Luxembourg and the Netherlands were also hammered by heavy rains, inundating many areas and forcing thousands to be evacuated in the city of Maastricht.

Gerd Landsberg, head of the German Association of Towns and Municipalities, said the cost of the damage was likely to run into billions of euros.

In Belgium, the army has been sent to four of the country’s 10 provinces to help with rescue and evacuations. In Switzerland, lakes and rivers were also swelling after heavy overnight rainfall. In Lucerne in particular, Lake Lucerne had begun to flood the city centre.

Some parts of Western Europe received up to two months’ worth of rainfall in two days on soil that was already near saturation, according to the World Meteorological Organization. But there was some improvement yesterday as the water level began to fall back.