Germany, Belgium floods death toll rises above 170

WION Web Team
New Delhi Updated: Jul 18, 2021, 10:29 AM(IST)

Germany floods Photograph:( AFP )

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This is worst natural disaster in Germany in more than half a century

Death toll in highly destructive and devastating floods in Germany and Belgium rose above 170 on Saturday. Burst rivers and flash floods have destroyed homes and ripped up roads and power lines.

This is proving to be Germany's worst natural disaster in more than half a century. Around 140 deaths have been recorded in Germany. Out of these, about 98 have died in Ahrweiler district south of Cologne, according to police.

Hundreds of people are missing or are unreachable since several areas were not accessible due to high water levels.

Business owners and residents struggled to pick up the pieces in battered towns.

"Everything is completely destroyed. You don't recognise the scenery," said Michael Lang, owner of a wine shop in the town of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler in Ahrweiler, fighting back tears.

Also Read: Angela Merkel to visit flood-hit western Germany on Sunday

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Erftstadt in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where the disaster killed at least 43 people.

"We mourn with those that have lost friends, acquaintances, family members," he said. "Their fate is ripping our hearts apart."

Around 700 residents were evacuated late on Friday after a dam broke in the town of Wassenberg near Cologne, authorities said.

But Wassenberg mayor Marcel Maurer said water levels had been stabilising since the night. "It's too early to give the all-clear but we are cautiously optimistic," he said.

The Steinbachtal dam in western Germany, however, remained at risk of breaching, authorities said after some 4,500 people were evacuated from homes downstream.

Steinmeier said it would take weeks before the full damage, expected to require several billions of euros in reconstruction funds, could be assessed.

(With inputs from agencies)

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