Torrential rains kill around 50 in Europe

Torrential rains, which have been falling for several days in several European countries, killed around 50 people on Thursday.

In Germany, hit hard by severe weather, floods in the west of the country have killed at least 45 people, police said.

The toll of the torrential rains could become even worse as in the municipality of Schuld, south of Bonn, where six riverside houses collapsed, police count between 50 and 60 missing.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was "shocked" by this disaster, unprecedented in the country for more than two decades.

The emergency services are continuing their interventions to evacuate the victims, but many accesses remain blocked, complicating operations. The German army has also been deployed to the worst affected areas.

In Belgium, at least six people lost their lives in flooding and several thousand had to leave their homes.

The severe bad weather which caused extensive material damage also led to the shutdown of the rail network in the Walloon region and caused major disruptions on the main roads.

The Meuse river overflowed in several places, rivers saw their flow increase enormously with the torrential rains of the last days and several towns found themselves under water.

Faced with the scale of the damage, the Belgian Minister of the Interior, Annelies Verlinden, activated the European Union's civil protection mechanism, which makes it possible to call on other EU Member States for specific support needs (in material, personnel, etc.), and also to mobilize the European civil protection support team.

The minister also triggered the federal emergency phase which allows the crisis to be managed from this level of power.

The Belgian authorities have also called on the army in four of the country's ten provinces to help with relief efforts and numerous evacuations.

Neighboring Luxembourg also triggered the “bad weather” plan after heavy rainfall. “Many” houses were flooded all over the country and their inhabitants were evacuated.

The Netherlands are also affected by the floods, including the province of Limburg which has suffered extensive damage. Thus, several axes, including a very busy motorway, have been closed due to the risk of flooding from rivers and streams.

In Switzerland, lake levels continued to rise worryingly Thursday due to bad weather, some exceeding their maximum alert level, according to cantonal services.

In France, ten departments in the east have been placed on orange alert by Météo France for floods, rains and floods.

Faced with these exceptional bad weather, several European officials point the finger at climate change.

“These extreme weather vagaries are the consequences of climate change,” said German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, for whom Germany must “prepare much better”.

The same goes for Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, who insists that we must better anticipate and react to extreme weather phenomena.

“I wouldn't want to rush into analysis. But warnings had existed for years that we were going to face extreme events. Do we take these phenomena seriously? Yes. But now the focus is 100% on doing everything to save people, ”he added.

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