Record rainfall in western Europe caused rivers to burst their banks. At least 46 people have died and other up to 70 are mising in Germany, most of them around the wine-growing region of Ahrweiler, in Rhineland-Palatinate state, after unprecedented floods hit the country. The rainfall experts described as the heaviest in a century. It swept across western and southern parts of the country, causing buildings to collapse, police said Thursday. The German regions of North-Rhine Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland were worst affected. Hundreds of soldiers were helping police with the rescue efforts in Germany, using tanks to clear roads of landslides and fallen trees. The rain also caused severe disruption to public transport, with high-speed Thalys train services to Germany cancelled. Traffic on the river Meuse is also suspended.
Six people died in Belgium. The floods have also disrupted Belgium’s national railway network, Infrabel, stopping services in the French-speaking south of the country. Luxembourg and the Netherlands are also affected. Merkel is currently in Washington DC to meet President Joe Biden Thursday. She will step down as Chancellor and will be succeeded by Armin Laschet, the premier of North Rhine-Westphalia. The European Union activated the civil emergency response mechanism to help areas of Belgium affected by floods, the EU Commission said Thursday in a statement. ”For now we predict the worst of the torrential rainfall is over, though more heavy rain is due in southwestern Germany on the upper reaches of the Rhine, [Thursday] and Friday,’ forecasters predicted.