First there was surprise, then panic: many older people said they had never seen rivers rise so quickly, and the heavy rains accompanied by rampant flooding across Europe brought disaster to France, Belgium and many other places, while Germany was the hardest hit, with massive power outages in western villages and cities and dozens of people missing. As of now, the number of people who died from the disaster in Germany has risen to at least 59, and the death toll across Europe is approaching 70. But the actual death toll could be much higher as several affected areas are cut off from the outside world by flooding.
On the evening of Thursday, July 15, the German government announced that the death toll from the historic flash floods had risen from the previously announced 45 to 59, with the death toll in North Rhine-Westphalia reaching 31 and the death toll in the neighbouring state of Rhineland-Palatinate rising to 18, with the state government saying that new remains are being found almost every hour that passes. This is the worst natural disaster to have hit Germany since the war, with some 200,000 families affected and without power. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is visiting Washington, announced that she will properly help the affected people. Several German dignitaries said that climate change is behind the flooding.
In France, 12 eastern provinces are under orange alert; Belgium’s Westdale River is rapidly rising and the city of Liege is asking residents in potentially affected areas to evacuate, and four of Belgium’s 10 provinces already have troops in place to begin disaster relief; thousands of people in the southern Dutch province of Limburg have received government orders to leave immediately, and the local government has announced that the Maas River has reached historic warning levels. The city center of Falkenburg in Limburg, located at the border of the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, has been flooded and at least one bridge has been destroyed.