Over 125 Dead, Hundreds Missing as Flooding Devastates Germany, Belgium

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Record-breaking rainfall has devastated parts of Western Europe this week as dangerous floods in Germany and Belgium left dozens dead and hundreds missing.

The flash floods swept away cars and caused houses to collapse across the region, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel fearful that "the full extent of this tragedy will only be seen in the coming days."

The death toll has surpassed 125 people with 1,300 people still missing.

The hardest-hit areas have been the western Germany states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, which have reported 63 and 43 deaths, respectively.

Over 20 people have died in Belgium.

Merkel, the longtime German leader, and U.S. President Joe Biden expressed their sorrow over the loss of life during a news conference at the White House late Thursday.

She said the flooding was a "catastrophe," calling Thursday "a day characterized by fear, by despair, by suffering."

"I must say my empathy and my heart goes [out to] all of those who in this catastrophe lost their loved ones or who are still worrying about the fate of people still missing," she said.

Weather experts say that parts of western Europe received up to two months of rainfall in the span of two days

Several European leaders said the severity of this extreme weather event should prompt immediate action to fight climate change.

"It is the intensity and the length of the events that science tells us this is a clear indication of climate change and that this is something that really, really shows the urgency to act," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during a news conference Friday.

The live updates for this story have ended.

Flood Germany
People shovel mud to clear a street in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, western Germany, on July 16, 2021, after heavy rain hit parts of the country, causing widespread flooding and major damage. The death toll from devastating floods in Europe soared to at least 126 on July 16, most in western Germany where emergency responders were frantically searching for missing people. CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP via Getty Images

Weather expected to improve over the weekend in western Europe

The weather is expected to improve in western Europe, following heavy rain and devastating flooding.

The forecast shows that the heavy rain in Germany in the Ahrweiler district of Rhineland-Palatinate will let up Friday and into the weekend.

This will help the efforts to clear debris and will make it easier for search and rescue teams to look for the 1,3000 missing people in the area.

A spokesman for the German weather service Deutscher Wetterdienst told CNN Friday that the areas impacted by the flooding in Germany will see "much better weather in the coming days."

''The situation is easing, we still see showers or thunderstorms in some regions on Friday," spokesperson Andreas Friedrich said. "Over the weekend we expect dry summery weather, which will prevail throughout all of next week."

The weather is also expected to clear up over Belgium this weekend.

The Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium forecasts only light rain in the hilly Ardennes region, which experienced heavy flooding over the past few days.

There is only a 3 percent chance of precipitation on Saturday in hard-hit Liège, according to the AccuWeather forecasting service.

Alex Dewalque, a spokesman for the meteorological institute, told The New York Times that the coming days would be much drier, warmer and without flood warnings.

German man describes the aftermath of the flood as a "very sad scene"

Germans recounted their experiences on Friday as the flood rushed through their communities, as well as the destruction the waters left behind.

Gregor Jericho told the BBC that Rheinbach is "a very sad scene" after the flood destroyed buildings and streets.

"There's garbage everywhere," he said. "Parts of buildings are in the road, people are sitting and crying. It's so sad. People have lost their homes, their cars are in flooded fields, my city looks like a battle has taken place."

He said a girl he knew in his street died when she was knocked down by a car and drowned.

"My brother tried to help her and called an ambulance, but she was already dead," he recounted.

He added that a flood like this has never been seen before.

"We don't have floods like this."

VIDEO: Heavy damage after fatal floods in Germany.

Massive flooding in western Germany has left dozens of people dead and caused significant damage pic.twitter.com/D7JVPbZUPm

— AFP News Agency (@AFP) July 16, 2021

In Heimerzheim, witnesses told Deutsche Welle they had only minutes to escape the floodwaters Thursday.

Uwe and Robert Gödecke and their dog Kuno were able to escape after they were awoken by the roaring waters. All they grabbed was a wallet and some dog food.

They were eventually rescued by a German Red Cross motorboat.

"Everything came floating past us: the garden table, the beach chairs, the rubbish bin," Uwe said.

Belgium to hold a national day of mourning July 20

Belgium will hold a national day of morning on July 20, after what Prime Minister Alexander De Croo called "the most catastrophic floods our country has ever seen."

"It will be a moment to reflect on the great human loss, it will also be a moment to show solidarity, to show closeness, to show solidarity, to show friendship," De Croo said at a news conference Friday. "What were meant to be beautiful summer days suddenly turned into dark and extremely sad days for a high number of our fellow citizens."

Over 20 people have died in Belgium from the extreme flooding so far.

Am Dienstag, 20. Juli, wird Staatstrauertag sein.

Ein Tag zum Gedenken an die zahlreichen verlorenen Menschenleben. Aber auch als Dank für die gelebte Solidarität, Nähe und Verbundenheit.

— Alexander De Croo (@alexanderdecroo) July 16, 2021

"At a time like this it is good to see solidarity from all over the country is shown towards those affected," De Croo said. "The services of professional aid workers, also of volunteers. We also see spontaneous actions of solidarity everywhere: providing food, clothing and other materials."

He said that the country needs to "stand shoulder to shoulder" and "help each other as best we can at this particularly difficult moment."

De Croo added that the Belgian government will "do everything possible" to ensure the affected families and municipalities are supported.

Death toll surpasses 125 in western Europe

The death toll from the devastating floods in western Europe rose to more than 125, the Associated Press reported.

Emergency workers from across Europe are continuing search and rescue efforts in Germany and Belgium.

The hardest-hit areas have been the western Germany states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, which have reported 63 and 43 deaths, respectively.

In Belgium, the death toll has risen to 23.

Before and after
Aerial views of #Altenahr in Germany's Rhineland-Palatinate state
From @WxNB_#Flooding #Hochwasser #Germany
REPOSTING to correct source pic.twitter.com/cFRFAy3KHd

— World Meteorological Organization (@WMO) July 16, 2021

German soccer associations pledge 3 million euros for flood victims

The German Football Association (DFB) and the German Football League (DFL) pledged 3 million euros, about $3.5 million, of aid to floods victims in Germany.

"The images of the floods and devastation, the entire extent of this catastrophe, leave us affected and horrified," the DFB and DFL said in a joint statement Friday. "Our thoughts go with the relatives of the deceased, the injured and the many people in need."

Der #DFB und die @DFL_Official sichern den Opfern der Hochwasser-Katastrophe Hilfe zu.

Zur Stellungnahme ➡️ https://t.co/Y9IJF6mJkE pic.twitter.com/LsK74QGnhz

— DFB (Verband) (@DFB) July 16, 2021

The DFB and the DFL made similar contributions after a major flood that hit Germany in 2013.

"This will not be able to alleviate the human suffering, the statement said. "We hope, however, that we will support together at least in some areas. We take solidarity in this crisis situation for granted."

Western Europe received "two months of rainfall in the space of two days"

After massive floods have devastated parts of western Europe, European leaders have blamed climate change for the increase in intensity and frequency of extreme weather events.

"Climate change has arrived in Germany," Environment Minister Svenja Schulze tweeted Thursday.

Der #Klimawandel ist in Deutschland angekommen. Die Ereignisse zeigen, mit welcher Wucht die Folgen des Klimawandels uns alle treffen können und wie wichtig es ist, sich künftig noch besser auf solche Extremwetter-Ereignisse einzustellen. (3/3)

— Svenja Schulze (@SvenjaSchulze68) July 15, 2021

World Meteorological Organization spokesperson Clare Nullis told the Associated Press that some parts of western Europe "received up to two months of rainfall in the space of two days."

While she said it was too soon to blame the floods and recent heat waves on rising global temperatures, Nullis noted that "climate change is already increasing the frequency of extreme events, and many single events have been shown to be made worse by global warming."

The floods in Germany were some of the worst the country has ever seen, Andreas Friedrich, a German weather service spokesman, told NBC News.

Friedrich said the devastation of the latest flooding was largely due to where the torrential rains hit.

"This is a special situation," he said. "In this region, we have small valleys, small rivers and of course, with the big amount of precipitation in a short time, we've had floods and damage in this region."

Belgium receives help from European Commission as death toll rises

The death toll in Belgium has risen to 22, the acting mayor of Liege, Christine Defraigne, told Sky News on Friday.

"At least 22 are dead," she said, but "we are afraid to discover more and more."

She urged people to evacuate their homes if they can or wait on higher floors for rescue teams.

"We'll evaluate the aftermath as the river is coming down, but it's still a very wide stream, and it still remains dangerous," she said. "So the aftermath of the crisis and the flooding are going to be very important, very deep because we are expecting many people deceased, and we are afraid to find the corpses."

Belgium has "asked for the Civil Protection Mechanism to be activated," European Commission spokesperson Stefan de Keersmaecker said in a statement.

France, Italy and Austria have sent more than 150 rescue workers, along with boats and helicopters, to provide assistance to search and rescue efforts in Belgium.

EU Commission President says flooding is an indication to act on climate change

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during a news conference Friday that the "horrible" flooding in Europe is evidence that leaders must act quickly on climate change.

"Science tells us that with climate change we see more extreme weather phenomena that last longer," she said. "It is the intensity and the length of the events that science tells us this is a clear indication of climate change and that this is something that really, really shows the urgency to act."

Therefore, von der Leyen said it is time to move past a fossil fuel-based economy toward modern, clean technology and a more sustainable economy.

"I think this is important, just in the frame that we've put forward now a roadmap on how to fight climate change and how to stop global warming," von der Leyen said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says the flooding events in Europe are ‘catastrophic’, and the EU has activated mechanisms to support the member states affected. She says these weather events show the urgency to act on climate change. | https://t.co/uqp8gj1Uto pic.twitter.com/AcMc0lWU3v

— RTÉ News (@rtenews) July 16, 2021

Angela Merkel shared her condolences for flooding victims Thursday

During her meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel shared her "deepest condolences" with those affected by the flooding.

She said the flooding was a "catastrophe," calling Thursday "a day characterized by fear, by despair, by suffering."

However, Merkel said she fears "we will only see the full extent of this tragedy in the coming days."

"I must say my empathy and my heart goes [out to] all of those who in this catastrophe lost their loved ones or who are still worrying about the fate of people still missing," she said.

Merkel included those affected in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands in her remarks.

She confirmed that the government would provide support for the reconstruction of the affected areas, saying that they will "not leave you alone in this difficult, terrible hour."

Biden also shared his condolences.

"It's a tragedy and our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones," he said.

At least 165,000 without power in western Germany

Western Germany remains the hardest-hit area after the major flooding in Europe.

Over 100 people have died in Germany and at least 165,000 people are without power in Rhineland-Palatinate and the neighboring state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Authorities say this has made it more difficult to account for the 1,300 missing people.

''[In] some places, phone lines are still down and reception is difficult," Ulrich Sopart, a police spokesman in the city of Koblenz, told CNN. "We do hope that people will get in touch with a relative, work colleague or friend to let them know they are fine."

He added that "overall we are concerned that a large number of people remain missing."

Over 850 German military troops have been sent to assist in the search and rescue effort Friday morning, Defense Ministry spokesman Arne Collatz told the Associated Press.

However, the number of troops deployed is "rising significantly because the need is growing."

Death toll reaches over 120

More than 120 people have died in the floods across Germany and Belgium, the Associated Press reported Friday morning.

Hundreds are still unaccounted for as search and rescue efforts continue.

VIDEO: Heavy damage after fatal floods in Germany.

Massive flooding in western Germany has left dozens of people dead and caused significant damage pic.twitter.com/D7JVPbZUPm

— AFP News Agency (@AFP) July 16, 2021

German President 'stunned' by floods as death toll rises to 110

Frank-Walter Steinmeier pledged support to the families of those killed and to cities and towns across Germany facing significant damage.

In the hour of need, our country stands together...it's important that we show solidarity for those from whom the flood has taken everything.

'Unthinkable devastation': Houses destroyed in Germany as land collapses

A tweet from a government office in North Rhine-Westphalia confirmed that "several people are missing" and that rescuing those trapped mid-flood "is often not possible".

Tweeting in solidarity with his neighbours, senior EU and Belgian politician Guy Verhofstadt called for a "fight against global warming".

What an unthinkable devastation. 🇩🇪 🇧🇪

This should reinforce our fight against global warming and forge stronger 🇪🇺 prapatedness and solidarity whenever and wherever it hits. #CoFoE pic.twitter.com/ChagZox2IO

— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) July 16, 2021

Governor of Germany's Rhineland-Palatinate region calls for climate action amid flooding

Malu Deyer told reporters the impact of climate change "isn't abstract anymore" and accused her political opponent - including Angela Merkel - of hindering efforts to reduce emissions in Germany.

We've experienced droughts, heavy rain and flooding events several years in a row, including in our state... climate change isn't abstract anymore. We are experiencing it up close and painfully.

While Europe suffers heavy flooding, U.S. wildfires continue to burn

Thousands more people have been ordered to evacuate their homes in Oregon and California as the Bootleg and Beckwourth Complex fires continue to rage. Bootleg has burned through an area larger than New York City and there are now fears it could merge with the smaller but rapidly-spreading Log Fire in the east.

The National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group (NMAC) last night increased the National Preparedness Level to 5 - the highest alert - meaning thousands more emergency service personnel become available to deal with out-of-control fires in multiple states.

Wildfires rage on in U.S.
Wildfires continue to burn across hundreds of thousands of acres in the U.S. David McNew/Getty Images

Death toll climbs to over 100

Officials in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia - one of two regions devastated by deadly flooding - say the toll has increased to 43, pushing the total number of fatalities in Germany and Belgium over 100.

Rescuers are scrambling to find survivors and rescue people trapped in houses at risk of collapse. Hundreds of people are still missing and thousands are homeless, officials added.

In pictures: Europe wakes up to destruction after floods

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Death toll tops 90

The latest total as of Friday morning has reached at least 92 as search operations get underway.

Over 1,300 remain missing, officials in Germany confirmed.

Good morning and welcome to the Newsweek liveblog

Heavy floods have devastated parts of Germany and Belgium throughout this week as record levels of rainfall hit the Western Europe.

Dozens have been killed by dangerous flash flooding while over 1,300 people are missing.

Stick with Newsweek for all the latest updates throughout Friday.