Germany and Belgium were hit by terrible flooding leaving more than 60 people dead and dozens unaccounted for as cars were washed away and houses crashed down.
Nine residents of an aided living facility for persons with disabilities were among the fatalities, as well as two firefighters who helped in the rescue operations.
“I grieve for those who have lost their lives in this disaster,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel who visited Washington.
Expressing shock over the disaster, Merkel, who spoke alongside President Joe Biden said her thoughts go to the victims’ families.
“I fear the full extent of this tragedy will only be seen in the coming days,” Merkel said.
The US President also aired his condolences for the flooding-affected lives. “Our hearts go out to the families who’ve lost loved ones,” Biden said.
According to authorities, at least 30 people have lost their lives in North Rhine-Westphalia state. Twenty-eight others have died in the nearby Rhineland-Palatinate to the south.
Rivers and reservoirs were not able to hold the water brought about by the recent storms across western Europe that started flash floods overnight. The water cannot be absorbed anymore by the saturated soil.
Schuld, a German village, was among the areas severely hit by the flood as multiple homes have collapsed. Dozens of people in the area were still unaccounted for.
Blocked roads, as well as outages in communication means across the Eifel, pose a challenge to the rescue efforts.
The sudden water movement caused the collapse of some villages, turning it into debris as old bricks cannot withstand the current that often brought large rubble, Associated Press reported.
People have been rescued from the roofs through helicopters and inflatable boats as hundreds of soldiers came to augment the rescue operations.“There are people dead, there are people missing, there are many who are still in danger,” Rhineland-Palatinate state mayor Malu Dreyer said. “We have never seen such a disaster. It’s really devastating.”