More Than 50 Dead, Thousands Missing in Germany as Severe Floods Devastate Western Europe
Some areas of Germany have not seen this much rain for 100 years
More than 50 people have died in Germany as of Thursday night after severe floods in Western Europe devastated several areas of the country.
Over the past 24 hours, officials have determined that 58 people died across the nation — concentrated in southwestern state Rhineland-Palatinate and western state North Rhine-Westphalia — and 1,300 are missing, The Washington Post and New York Times reported on Thursday.
At least 11 people in Belgium have died as a result of the extreme weather, officials said, the New York Times and BBC reported. The flooding has also affected the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland, and warnings were issued in areas of France.
In addition to lives lost, the flooding washed some people's homes away, while some German citizens have been left awaiting rescue from their rooftops. Power and cell phone signals were cut off in dozens of communities.
Firefighters, helicopter personnel, police, emergency responders and military are working in a joint effort to save those reported missing, according to the New York Times.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel — who is visiting President Joe Biden at the White House — said in a press conference that she was "shocked" by the extreme flooding.
"My sympathy goes to the relatives of the dead and missing," she said. "I grieve for those who have lost their lives in this disaster."
Merkel, 66, added, "We still don't know the number. But it will be many."
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"Heavy rain and flooding' doesn't capture what happened," she said of the natural disaster.
The downpour of rain marked levels of precipitation that have not been recorded in some areas for 100 years, German weather service spokesperson Andreas Friedrich told CNN. "In some areas we've seen more than double the amount of rainfall which has caused flooding and unfortunately some building structures to collapse," he said.
Activists, politicians and other leaders have connected the extreme weather to climate change. The catastrophe occurred just days after the European Union announced its goal to cut the use of fossil fuels and greenhouse gases by 55 percent by 2030, the New York Times reported.
Climate activist Greta Thunberg tweeted, "Deadly heatwaves, floods, storms, wildfires, droughts, crop failures... This is not 'the new normal'. We're at the very beginning of a climate and ecological emergency, and extreme weather events will only become more and more frequent."
European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed her condolences to those affected by the severe flooding and vowed to support the nations affected.
"My thoughts are with the families of the victims of the devastating floods in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands and those who have lost their homes," she tweeted. "The E.U. is ready to help."