Race to find survivors as Europe reels from floods

Rescue crew have been racing to find survivors of floods that have wreaked havoc across western Europe, killing more than 120 people.

Hundreds are still missing after record rainfall triggered severe floods in Germany and Belgium.

Heavy rains also hit Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – where PM Mark Rutte has declared a national disaster in one southern province.

European leaders have blamed the extreme weather on climate change.

Experts say global warming makes torrential rainfall more likely.

The world has already warmed by about 1.2C since the industrial era began.

In Germany, where the death toll stands at over 100, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was “stunned” by the devastation ahead of a visit to a flood-hit region on Saturday.

“Whole places are scarred by the disaster,” Mr Steinmeier said at a news conference. “Many people have lost what they have built all their lives.”

Fears grow for missing

Rescue teams in Germany were hampered by difficult conditions on Friday, leaving relatives of the missing waiting anxiously for news.

Phone networks were down, roads were badly damaged, and more than 100,000 homes were without power.

The states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland have been the worst affected by the rainfall.

In Rhineland-Palatinate’s district of Ahrweiler, officials had said about 1,300 people were missing on Friday – but added that the figure was “decreasing every hour”.

A resident of the Ahrweiler village of Schuld told AFP news agency that cars had been washed away and houses knocked down in scenes he likened to a “war zone”.

Roger Lewentz, the interior minister for Rhineland-Palatinate, told local media the death toll would probably rise. “When you haven’t heard from people for such a long time… you have to fear the worst,” he said.

  

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