70 People Remain Missing in Belgium, Germany After Nearly 200 Killed in Flooding

After devastating flooding last week in Belgium and Germany, some 70 people are still missing and nearly 200 are dead as volunteers and support come from across the nation.

A total of 196 people have been confirmed dead, with 165 in Germany and 31 in Belgium. In an effort to continue looking for survivors and help clean up debris, around volunteer 10,000 workers have offered to visit the region in Belgium hit hardest by the flooding when waters recede.

The king and queen of Belgium visited the town of Verviers to offer comfort to those who lost loved ones or their homes in the flooding. A letter published in local newspapers by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo offered support as well as the country held a day of mourning on Tuesday.

"We will not abandon you," De Croo wrote. "We will do everything possible to support you."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Alexander De Croo
Belgian's Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (R) listens to a speech before observing a minute of silence during a tribute ceremony with a minute of silence, part of the national mourning day for victims of the severe floods, in Verviers on July 20, 2021. The clean-up is still under way to help the regions hit hardest recover from the scenes of destruction that saw dozens of homes collapsed and cars piled on top of each other. John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

Flags flew at half staff and at noon, sirens wailed throughout Belgium, followed by a moment of silence.

In Germany, Merkel made her second visit to the western region hit by flash floods as work continued to clear up piles of mud-caked debris and find any more victims of last week's disaster. In the town of Bad Muenstereifel, Merkel started her tour by visiting a warehouse where donations were being stored.

Merkel and De Croo have promised quick financial aid and a redoubled political focus on curbing climate change.

European Union environment ministers underscored the point when they met in Slovenia on Tuesday to assess last week's massive and costly EU plan to contain climate change.

Germany's deputy environment minister, Jochen Flasbarth, said that "we do not have an alternative" to delivering on that plan.

EU Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans agreed.

"What we've seen last week was a small reminder of the fact that the cost in human lives, but also material costs of non-action are way, way higher than the cost of acting," Timmermans said.

"Humanity will be confronted with very erratic weather patterns: 50 degrees (Celsius) northwest Canada, 40 degrees in Siberia, 40 degrees in central Europe. The floods, droughts, agriculture's dealing with wildfires. That is a consequence of the climate crisis," he said.

Timmermans is the chief architect of the massive proposals to spend billions and force industry into drastic reforms to help cut the bloc's emissions of the gases that cause global warming by 55 percent this decade.

Queen Mathilde comforts victims
Belgium's Queen Mathilde, right, speaks with residents affected by the floods, prior to participating in a ceremony of one minute of silence to pay respect to victims of the recent floods in Belgium, in Verviers, Belgium, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. Belgium is holding a day of mourning on Tuesday to show respect to the victims of the devastating flooding last week, when massive rains turned streets in eastern Europe into deadly torrents of water, mud and flotsam. Eric Lalmand/Pool Photo via AP