Freak flooding from torrential rainfall in Europe has claimed dozens of lives in Western Europe. Seventy people in Germany are missing Thursday as rain continues to flood low-lying areas. At least 46 lives were lost due to the unprecedented flooding; authorities claim it is the worst seen in the region in a century.
Other Western European countries were also affected, with Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands reporting damaged buildings and missing people related to the downpour. “In some areas we have not seen this much rainfall in 100 years,” German weather service spokesman Andreas Friedrich tells reporters. He goes on, “in some areas; we’ve seen more than double the amount of rainfall which has caused flooding and unfortunately some building structures to collapse.”
The areas in Germany affected the most by the downpour were North-Rhine Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Saarland. Near the Rhine river, these areas are uniquely susceptible to flooding due to their low elevation and proximity to a body of water.
Images of flooded streets were shared widely on social media Thursday morning. Dire warnings regarding climate change often accompanied the striking photos of major German cities half-submerged under floodwaters. Many activists insist that climate change leads to increased incidents of extreme weather, both in Europe and in the rest of the world.
“We will be faced with such events over and over, and that means we need to speed up climate protection measures, on European, federal, and global levels, because climate change isn’t confined to one state,” said German Conservative Party politician Armin Laschet.
Reports say flooding in Belgium, where at least six people lost their lives due to the raging floodwaters. The flooding has caused damage to the infrastructure in the region, bringing the country’s rail system to a grinding halt and ultimately cutting the southern region of the country off from the rest of Europe.
The EU has activated its civil emergency response mechanisms, scrambling to address the issue before it becomes a full-blown humanitarian crisis.
Another concern from the flooding is that it has caused damage to the infrastructure of the affected countries. The River Rhine is a major trading route for boats in Western Europe, and its flooding has suspended all mercantile traffic for the time being. The river’s raging waters are all but impossible to navigate at the time of this writing, which will cause further strain on the already-beleaguered international shipping industry.