More than 183 people have been killed and hundreds missing by extreme floods in western Germany and Belgium, which has been described to be the “worst natural disaster” in a century.
Death tolls in Germany and Belgium continue to rise and hundreds of people remain unaccounted for following historic floods that left entire towns and infrastructures destroyed. Rescue teams continue to search for victims amidst the wreckage and debris, as well as persistent heavy rains and mud, while tens of thousands of residents have been left homeless with no access to power and drinking water .
Germany has been hit the hardest by the fatal floods, with 110 deaths reported from the western state of Rhine-Palatinate, while Belgium lost 27 lives with dozens remaining missing.
The extreme flash floods were a result from a spike in rainfall levels, which rose suddenly within minutes. The downpours started in parts of western Germany before moving towards neighbouring nations including Belgium and the Netherlands.
According to the European Severe Weather Database, in Cologne, Germany, it recorded 154 mm of rainfall within 24 hours between July 14 and 15, almost doubling previous July averages of 87 millimeters. Likewise, in the Ahrweiler district, 207 mm of rainfall was recorded in only nine hours.
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The aftermath has left entire towns, train lines and roads completely swept away. The German government has announced to provide immediate federal support of approximately USD $472 million but warned rebuilding efforts could take months, if not years.
Climate change policies will be at the heart of policies and debates as Germany looks to replace German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the upcoming September elections. Politicians have begun the push for developing a climate neutral industry in Germany in order to avoid a repeat of the catastrophe, especially after the EU rolled up their plans to reach Net-Zero emission by 2050.
Scientists have warned that extreme weather events will become more frequent and increasingly more dangerous as a result of climate change. In the wake of unprecedented heat waves and wildfires in Western regions of Canada and the US, it is predicted that similar occurrences much like the flash floods in Germany will likely follow.