The death toll from catastrophic flooding in Western Europe rose to over 150 on Saturday as rescue workers sought to clean up the devastation and prevent further damage.
In the west German district of Ahrweiler, one of the hardest hit areas, more than 90 people have died, the police said. More victims are feared. For the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, in which Ahrweiler is located, the authorities announced a death toll of 63 on Friday.
In the neighboring state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous state in Germany, another 43 people were confirmed dead. The Belgian broadcaster RTBF reported that the death toll in Belgium rose to 27 on Saturday.
By Saturday, water receded in much of the affected areas, but officials feared more bodies could be found in cars and trucks that were swept away.
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier planned to travel to Erftstadt southwest of Cologne on Saturday, where a harrowing rescue operation took place on Friday when people were trapped when the ground gave way and their houses collapsed. Officials feared that some people could not escape, but no victims had been confirmed as of Saturday morning.
Many areas were still without electricity and telephones.
In addition to Germany and Belgium, the southern parts of the Netherlands are also affected by severe flooding. And heavy rains in Switzerland have caused several rivers and lakes to overflow. The authorities of the city of Lucerne have closed several pedestrian bridges over the Reuss.
BAD NEUENAHR, GERMANY – JULY 16: Streets and apartment buildings damaged by the flooding of the Ahr can be seen in Bad Neuenahr – Ahrweiler, Germany on July 16, 2021.
Sascha Schuermann | Getty Images News | Getty Images