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Extreme Weather

In photos: Lives lost and homes destroyed as devastating floods sweep Europe

Thousands are homeless after days of heavy storms that caused flash floods in Germany and Belgium.

AT LEAST 110 people have died in devastating floods across parts of western Germany and Belgium, officials said, as rescue operations and the search for hundreds still unaccounted for continue.

royals-visit-those-affected-by-floods-netherlands Heavy rains overnight left multiple places in the province of Limburg in the Netherlands flooded Utrecht Robin / ABACA Utrecht Robin / ABACA / ABACA

Authorities in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate said 60 people had died there, including at least nine residents of an care home for people with disabilities.

In neighbouring North Rhine-Westphalia state, officials put the death toll at 43, but warned that the figure could rise further.

germany-muhlheim-rainfall-floods A car is seen in the water of the overflowing river in Muhlheim, a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany Xinhua News Agency / PA Images Xinhua News Agency / PA Images / PA Images

Authorities said last night that about 1,300 people in Germany were still listed as missing, but cautioned that the high figure could be due to duplication of data and difficulties reaching people because of disrupted roads and phone connections.

In a provisional tally, the Belgian death toll rose to 12, with five people still missing, local authorities and media reports said.

germany-cologne-floods The bank of the river Rhine is seen flooded in Cologne, western Germany Xinhua News Agency / PA Images Xinhua News Agency / PA Images / PA Images

The flash floods this week followed days of heavy rainfall which turned streams and streets into raging torrents that swept away cars and caused houses to collapse across the region.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Joe Biden expressed their sorrow over the loss of life during a news conference at the White House last night.

heavy-rainfall-causes-flash-floods-liege The provincial disaster plan has been declared in Liege, Luxembourg and Namur provinces after large amounts of rainfall Bourguet Philippe / BePress/ABACA Bourguet Philippe / BePress/ABACA / BePress/ABACA

The governor of North Rhine-Westphalia state, Armin Laschet, has called an emergency cabinet meeting for today.

Malu Dreyer, the governor of Rhineland-Palatinate state, said the disaster showed the need to speed up efforts to curb global warming.

storm-in-rhineland-palatinate Two firefighters walk through the rubble in the village in the district of Ahrweiler after the storm with high water DPA / PA Images DPA / PA Images / PA Images

Thousands of people remain homeless after their houses were destroyed or deemed at risk by authorities, including several villages around the Steinbach reservoir that experts say could collapse under the weight of the floods.

The German army has deployed 900 soldiers to help with the rescue and clear-up effort.

storm-in-rhineland-palatinate An advertising display lies on a destroyed car in the village in the district of Ahrweiler the day after the storm with high water DPA / PA Images DPA / PA Images / PA Images

Across the border in Belgium, most of the drowned were found around Liege, where the rains hit hardest. Skies were largely overcast in eastern Belgium, with hopes rising that the worst of the disaster was over.

floods-in-rhineland-palatinate The centre of the municipality of Monreal is flooded, everything is under water DPA / PA Images DPA / PA Images / PA Images

In the southern Dutch province of Limburg, troops piled sandbags to strengthen a 0.7-mile stretch of dyke along the Maas river and police helped evacuate some low-lying neighbourhoods.

Caretaker prime minister Mark Rutte said last night that the government was officially declaring flood-hit regions a disaster area, meaning businesses and residents are eligible for compensation for damage.

storm-in-rhineland-palatinate The village in the district of Ahrweiler is largely destroyed DPA / PA Images DPA / PA Images / PA Images

King Willem-Alexander visited the region last night and called the scenes “heart-breaking”.

Meanwhile, sustained rainfall in Switzerland has caused several rivers and lakes to break their banks.

Public broadcaster SRF reported that a flash flood swept away cars, flooded basements and destroyed small bridges in the northern villages of Schleitheim und Beggingen late yesterday.

Our rolling news story on the floods will be updated throughout the day. 

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