Rescue teams in Western Europe were working against the clock on Sunday to find flood survivors as the death toll from the tragedy surpassed the 183 people.
Heavy rainfall wreaked havoc on Germany and Belgium, but they also affected Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, where Prime Minister Mark Rutte declared a national disaster in a southern province.
In the affected Ahrweiler area in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, police reported 110 dead although he warned that the number could continue to rise. In neighboring North Rhine-Westphalia state, Germany’s most populous, 45 deaths were confirmed, including four firefighters.
For its part, Belgium reported 27 deaths while the Netherlands were also seriously affected. In the southern province of Limburg, the waters washed away houses, and several old people’s homes had to be evacuated.
In the city of Maastricht, some 10,000 people received the evacuation order.
Meanwhile, the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, planned to visit this Sunday the town of Schuld, in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, one of the two hardest hit in western Germany, where the flooding of the Ahr river bulldozed houses and left the streets littered with debris.
The critical conditions faced by rescuers in the search for the disappeared were added in the last hours lack of drinking water. Many families were left without service after devastating floods that broke pipes, such as in the town of Stolberg, where authorities began distribution with tanks.
The waters began to recede in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia (RNW), and concern turned to the southern region of Upper Bavaria, where heavy rains flooded basements and caused rivers and streams to flood Saturday night.
Meanwhile, some 65 people were evacuated from the Berchtesgaden area, in Germany, due to the flooding of the Ache River, which had reached a historical maximum of 3.15 meters, and 500 rescue workers were working in the area.
In the Allgäu Alps near Oberstdorf, a mountain stream in Stillachtal is dangerously dammed by cross timber, reports the German Press Agency. If this natural barrier were to suddenly loosen, there could be a tidal wave in the direction of Oberstdorf.
President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, during a visit to a region affected by floods on Saturday, said he was stunned by the devastation.
“Whole places are scarred by disaster“Steinmeier told a news conference.” Many people have lost what they have built all their lives, “he added.
In addition, a flash flood affected the Austrian town of Hallein on Saturday night, although at first no casualties were reported.
The Chancellor of Austria, Sebastian Kurz, indicated on Twitter that the downpours and storms were causing serious damage in various parts of the country.
Also in Saxon Switzerland, several places were affected by severe flooding. The authorities warned of a “considerable dangerous situation” in Neustadt, Sebnitz, Bad Schandau, Reinhardtsdorf, Schöna and Gohrisch. Individual districts were no longer accessible.
There are also floods in Austria. In the city of Hallein, a civil protection alarm was triggered, reports ORF Radio. The old town is flooded.
Authorities linked the terrible floods to climate change. World temperatures have already increased by about 1.2 ° C since the industrial age began.