(CNN) – In Aldenahar, West Germany, not even the dead were saved Catastrophic flood This week. The village cemetery was blown away and the graves were damaged and overturned by the force of muddy water.
Antoinette Steinhoff stands on the edge of a flooded tomb and sees the devastation in front of her and is devastated. “My mother is there,” he says, pointing to a black marble tomb.
When the city was flooded, the 76-year-old saw a house washed all over. Two people were still inside, Steinhoff said. “They found one of the bodies in the vineyard,” he said.
Much of Aldenaher is now in ruins. The restaurants scattered along the river bank have been completely destroyed and the entire area of the buildings has been scattered to pieces. In some areas, the watermark reaches the middle of the second floor.
Roads, or the remnants of them, lie beneath the mud, between cars and collapsed buildings and rubble.
This is a panorama found in large parts of Western Europe Catastrophic flood It killed at least 157 people and left hundreds missing.
More than a hundred deaths
Extreme levels of flood danger were announced in Germany, with at least 133 people dead in the western states of Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatine and Charland. In Belgium, 24 people were confirmed dead as of Saturday morning, and officials warned that the number could rise.
Luxembourg and the Netherlands were also hit by heavy rains, but no casualties were reported.
The pictures showed entire cities and villages underwater, with cars between collapsed buildings and houses buried under landslides and debris.
The intense search for survivors continues despite rising water, landslides and power outages. The German army sent 850 soldiers for disaster relief.
According to the Interior Ministry, about 22,000 firefighters and humanitarian workers are involved in rescue and rescue operations in northern Rhine-Westphalia alone.
Residents described the chaos when the water rose, making it impossible to escape from the area and trapping people in their homes.
“The water was so high, you can’t go with small cars, they had special cars, they went in and tried to get out of the area as much as possible. Helicopters came in all night and tried to evacuate people there,” Michael Couch told CNN.
Cutts lives in Erfstadt, near Cologne, which is now one of the signs of destruction. Several buildings, including parts of a historic palace, were destroyed after a large sinkhole was opened in a nearby quarry. “The floodwaters washed away parts of the city, and now … the fire department says there may be so much water under the buildings that many more buildings could be further damaged and crashed,” Cuts said.
Communication lines in flooded areas are disrupted and loved ones are unable to communicate.
Thousands missing in floods
While the whereabouts of the 1,300 people are not yet known, Cobblens police told CNN on Saturday that officials expect the figures to be corrected downward as the rescue operation continues.
“There’s no end in sight yet,” city police spokesman Ulrich Sobard told CNN. “We believe some people have been reported missing two or three times, for example, if a family member, a work colleague or a friend has been reported missing,” Sobard explained.
“What else, [en] In some places phone connections are still not working and reception is difficult. We hope people will contact a family member, co-worker or friend to let them know that they are doing well, ”he said.
People across the Ahr River were left without electricity and telephone security, with some areas completely cut off, forcing the army and search and rescue helicopters to search the air for survivors by force.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited the Rhine-Erd district of northern Rhine-Westphalia on Saturday. Witnessing the devastation, he said the cleanup and recovery would “take a long time.”
The regional government said a dam across the Ruhr River in northern Rhine-Westphalia broke on Friday night. Authorities began evacuating about 700 residents in the vicinity of Ofowen in the city of Wassenberg.
Across the Belgian border, the Belgian military is battling search and rescue operations against time.
Marie-Louis Grosjean, a shop owner in Bebinster, Belgium, found a decade of hard work washed away in water and dirt when she poured water into her liquor and jewelry store on Friday. He said his father had lived in the city for 70 years and had never seen anything like it. Arthur, son of Grosjean, told CNN the course of the flood was very quick, so there is only destruction.
“Fortunately I do not live there, but it’s my mom’s business, nothing here. Hope we can fix it soon, but we do not know how,” he said.
“The situation is changing minute by minute and in many places it is very bad,” Prime Minister Alexander de Cruz told a news conference on Friday. “Priority to the victims, priority and focus on recovery. All possible avenues are being mobilized,” he added, adding that Belgium on Tuesday announced a day of national mourning for the flood victims.
Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, Dutch authorities ordered the evacuation of 10,000 people in the municipality of Wenlo, where the Mass River rose faster than expected. The high tide is expected to last until Sunday night.
Authorities fear more dams will break, and are closely monitoring reservoirs in the area. A hospital in the area with 200 patients was evacuated Friday.
The climate crisis is pushing for heavy rains
The catastrophic flood occurred after large parts of Western Europe experienced historic rainfall; The amount of falling over a month is reduced to 24 hours.
Cologne, in North Rhine-Westphalia, recorded 154 millimeters of rain in the first 24 hours of Thursday morning, more than double the July average of 87 millimeters. In the Ahrweiler district, 207 millimeters of rain fell in just nine hours, according to the European Meteorological Agency.
The downpour triggered an intense flash flood, with water levels rising within minutes.
While scientists are quick to say what role climate change has played in causing this particular flood, heavy rainfall events such as those seen in Western Europe this week are becoming more common and severe.
Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia Prime Minister Armin Lacet, who is the Conservative candidate after President Angela Merkel in the upcoming federal elections, has made a plea to the world that the floods in his state are “a catastrophe of historical proportions”. . Accelerates their efforts to mitigate and change climate change.
“The flood has really pushed the carpet out of people’s feet,” Lacet said.
“We will face such incidents again and again, which means we need to accelerate climate protection measures at the European, federal and global levels because climate change is not just for one state,” he said.
Although the amount of total rainfall does not change throughout the year at a given location, more rainfall is expected in short eruptions, which increases the frequency of flooding.
Scientists from the European Environment Agency pointed out that “a planned increase in the frequency and intensity of heavy rainfall over most parts of Europe could increase the likelihood of flash floods, which would be the greatest risk of death.”
Drought is becoming more common due to climate crisis, making flash flooding worse because too dry soil cannot absorb water effectively.
A scientist has studied whether the floods of 2016 in Western Europe, which killed 18 people in Germany, France, Romania and Belgium, played a role in climate change. They found that warmer climates were 80-90% more likely to cause flooding than before man-made climate change.
Reported by CNN’s Sam Kaylee, Barbara Vojaser, Melissa Bell, Chris Burns, Joseph Attaman, Nadine Schmidt, Scams Elvasser, Sharon Brightwhite, Vasco da Gama, Angela Diwan, Ulrik Dehmel and Brandon Miller. Ivana Kottasova wrote in London.