Flash flooding continues to devastate parts of Germany and other western European countries Friday, with the death toll climbing to more than 125 people and more than a thousand people still missing.
Entire towns and villages lay in ruins after swollen rivers swept through the western German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, as well as Belgium and the Netherlands.
The European region is experiencing some of the worst floodings in decades, as a low-pressure system circling over the continent triggered record-setting rainfalls and catastrophic flooding.
“Some parts of Western Europe … received up to two months of rainfall in the space of two days. What made it worse is that the soils were already saturated by previous rainfall,” World Meteorological Organization spokesperson Clare Nullis told the Associated Press.
While she said it was too soon to blame the floods and preceding heatwave on rising global temperatures, Nullis added: “Climate change is already increasing the frequency of extreme events. And many single events have been shown to be made worse by global warming.”
Here is a look in pictures and videos at the devastation the flooding has brought to the region.
One of the worst-hit areas in Germany’s Rhineland-Palatinate is the municipality of Schuld, where about 700 people live.
The village of Insul in Rhineland-Palatinate is also largely destroyed after massive rainfall and flooding of the river.
In Germany alone, 103 people have died in what is the country’s worst mass loss of life in years. Twelve of the dead were residents of a home for people with disabilities in Sinzig south of Cologne who were surprised by the flash floods during the night.
Some 114,000 households in Germany were without power and mobile phone networks collapsed in some flooded regions, which meant that family and friends were unable to track down their loved ones.
Belgium is also on high alert as floodwaters continue to destroy towns and villages, including Pepinster near Liege. Belgian media also put the death toll at at least 14 people, with a further four missing.
Hundreds of people fled their homes around the southern Dutch town of Meerssen after floods broke through a dyke on Friday, as rising waters left a path of destruction across the region.
Emergency services said the floodwaters were about to swamp the surrounding villages of Bunde, Voulwames, Brommelen and Geulle. Sirens sounded and drone footage showed water flowing into streets and homes.
“Immediately leave your home and get to safety,” the emergency services said in an online alert. “There is a large hole in the dyke.”
Families were told to turn off their electricity and gas supplies.
The flooding was expected to impact about 3,000 people, local emergency services spokeswoman Samantha Wisniewski said.
–With files from Reuters.