BERLIN:Heavy downpours in several west European countries in the past few days have been wreaking havoc, leading to disastrous flooding that causes rising casualties and damages.
Flash floods from heavy rainfall in western and southern Germany have left many missing. Casualties in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia alone have risen to at least 42, police and local authorities said on Thursday.
In Belgium, between Tuesday and Thursday, non-stop heavy rains have hit hard the eastern half of the country, according to the Belgian weather forecast.
Torrential rain has caused severe disruptions in Belgium on Thursday, with entire streets and villages inundated by heavy flooding. The downpour has turned streams and streets into raging torrents, sweeping away cars and flooding entire villages.
Four bodies were found in the municipality of Verviers in the province of Liege in the central east part of the country, according to Belgian news website 7sur7. According to the Brussels Times, at least six people have died as a result of the heavy rainfall and flooding across Belgium.
Public transport in Brussels is also heavily disrupted. The rains will continue to fall in the east and central part of the country, causing more rivers to overflow.
There are growing concerns that the Meuse River, which originates in France and flows through Belgium and the Netherlands before draining into the North Sea, may completely flood over the course of Thursday, causing more damage to towns nearby along its course.
In the neighboring Netherlands, heavy rainfall has caused severe nuisance in southern Dutch province Limburg on Wednesday and Thursday, with streets and houses being flooded and some people having been evacuated.
In the city of Valkenburg, soldiers helped to evacuate people from their flooded homes or care centers on Thursday. A hospice and two other care centers were already evacuated on Wednesday evening.
Fire brigades from other provinces helped to remove people from homes and pump the water away. The evacuated have been taken to shelters. About 400 households are without electricity.
The heavy downpour in Limburg was over early Thursday morning, but the drainage of the water is now the problem. The peak flow of Maas river (Meuse river in Belgium) has not yet been reached and the water will continue to rise for the next few days.
The EU (European Union) Civil Protection Mechanism, which coordinates member states in improving prevention, preparedness and response to disasters, has been activated to tackle heavy floods, following a request for assistance from Belgium on Wednesday.