The disastrous floods across parts of western Germany and Western Europe have killed hundreds of people, and others remain missing. As heavy rainfall hit parts of France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, the most affected areas were Western Germany, with at least sixty-three victims reported in Rhineland-Palatinate state and forty-three in North Rhine-West-Phalia state. Belgium has reported a death toll of 23. The Ahr River that flows into the Rhine burst its banks and destroyed some houses.
Rescue operations are ongoing as more victims could be found. Over 900 army officers have joined the salvage team in Germany, as thousands of people have been reported to be missing. Authorities said contacting the rescue team could be affected by disrupted roads and poor mobile phones connections.
EU Commission comment on the disaster
The President of the EU commission said the disastrous floods were a clear indication of climatic changes stressing the need for urgent response. Ursula von der Leyen, speaking in Dublin with Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin, said the EU had started mechanisms to assist the affected member states. Sounding positive, he added that the fight against climatic changes also created a great chance to exchange fossil fuels with modern, clean technologies and to shift to a circular economy utilizing less energy and waste.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte
Dutch PM declared the floods a national disaster affecting the southern province of Limburg, located between the most flooded areas in Western Germany and Belgium. Leaders were preparing to evacuate large parts of the city of Venlo on Friday last week and requested residents of the smaller municipality of Meerssen to flee their homes. The military was able to strengthen the dyke near Meerssen, as reported by the regional security body, although the order to evacuate the city remained.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo
Belgian PM said the days of the heavy flooding are the worst the nation has ever encountered, as he declared July 20 a day of national mourning. “We are still looking forward to the final toll, but this could be the most catastrophic flooding our nation has ever seen,” he said.
The cost of the disaster is likely to run into ‘billions of euros’
The chief of the German Association of Towns and Municipalities, Gerd Landsberg, said the damage would likely cost billions of euros. A young decorator from Bad Neuenahr in Rhineland-Palatinate, Agron Berischa, told a news agency that everything was under water in less than 15 minutes. “Our flat, our office, our neighbor’s houses, everywhere was under water,” he said.
Scientists note the climate change aggravates the situation
Scientists have insisted that the climatic changes worsen the severe weather that has been encountered in the western US, Canada, Siberia, and Europe’s Rhine region. “There is a clear connection between the severe precipitation happening and climate change,” a professor from Brussels University said. Another professor of the University of Potsdam said that some precipitations are so severe that they wouldn’t virtually happen without global warming, as currently seen in western North America. The head of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group, David King, said, “These are casualties of the climate chaos- we will only experience these extreme weather events more frequently.”
Hundreds of people flee their homes
Residents of the southern Dutch town of Meerssen have fled their homes after floods broke through a dyke. The emergency team said the floods were about to sweep away the neighboring villages. Drone footage showed water flowing into streets and homes. Families were asked to switch off their electricity and gas supplies and flee their homes to a safe place.
Authorities are also evacuating a hospital in the same town due to the emerging threat of flooding. Emergency services said some 200 patients would be shifted from the VieCuri hospital to other safer health facilities as a precaution to get ahead of any possible damage. The hospital is near the banks of the Maas River that flows into the Netherlands from Belgium, where flooding has caused massive destruction in and around the city of Liege.