BAD NEUENAHR-AHRWEILER: The death toll from devastating floods in Europe soared to at least 93 on Friday, most of them in western Germany, where emergency rescuers are looking for hundreds of missing people.
“I worry that we will only see the full scope of the disaster in the next few days,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said when meeting with President Joe Biden in Washington on Thursday night.
Residents in several areas have unknowingly left behind destruction and despair, and a large amount of water is called “death flood” by Germany’s best-selling daily newspaper Bild.
Authorities in the Rhineland-Palatinate state stated that 50 people died in the western state, bringing the national death toll to at least 81.
It is estimated that at least 12 people have died in neighbouring Belgium, and more than 21,000 people have lost power in the Wallonia region.
Luxembourg and the Netherlands were also severely affected by floods, and thousands of people were evacuated from Maastricht.
But Germany’s toll was by far the highest, and likely to rise with large numbers of people still missing in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, the hardest-hit states.
In the devastated Ahrweiler district of Rhineland-Palatinate around 1,300 people were unaccounted for, although local authorities told Bild the high number was likely down to damaged phone networks.
Regional interior minister Roger Lewentz told broadcaster SWR that “we believe there are still 40, 50 or 60 people missing, and when you haven’t heard for people for such a long time… you have to fear the worst.”
“The number of victims will likely keep rising in the coming days,” he added.