Catastrophic flooding in western Europe has killed more than 120 people, with hundreds more missing, authorities said Friday, as large-scale rescue efforts continue amidst rising water, landslides and power outages.
Shocking images of the devastation in Germany and Belgium showed entire villages underwater, with cars wedged in between collapsed buildings and debris. The Netherlands and Luxembourg have also been affected by the extreme rainfall. In Germany, at least 103 people have been killed across two western states. In the hard-hit district of Ahrweiler, in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, authorities told CNN that 1,300 people remained unaccounted for.
“There is no end in sight just yet,” Ulrich Sopart, a police spokesman in the city of Koblenz, told CNN. He said that authorities are hopeful that they will be able to revise down the number of missing people as the rescue operation continues and phone lines are restored. ”Our hopes are that some people might have been registered as missing twice or even three times — if for example a family member, a work colleague or a friend has registered a person as missing,” Sopart said. ”Also, [in] some places phone lines are still down and reception is difficult. We do hope that people will get in touch with a relative, work colleague or friend to let them know they are fine,” he said.
At least 165,000 people are currently without power in Rhineland-Palatinate and the neighboring state of North Rhine-Westphalia, authorities told CNN. In North Rhine-Westphalia, where at least 43 people have died, the state’s Interior Ministry spokeswoman Katja Heins told CNN: ”The situation remains very dynamic – we do not know how many people are unaccounted for.” The death toll in Rhineland-Palatinate has risen to at least 60, the state premier, Malu Dreyer, announced Friday, adding that there was bad news every hour. ”We have 60 dead to mourn at the moment and it is to be feared that the number will rise even further, ” Dreyer said at a news conference, adding: ”We have not yet reached the stage where we can say that situation is easing.”