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Germany and Belgium: At least 120 people dead after floods, villages evacuated

Christian Fernsby |
At least 120 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.

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German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was “stunned” by the devastation and pledged support to the families of those killed and to cities and towns facing significant damage.

“In the hour of need, our country stands together,” he said in a statement. “It’s important that we show solidarity for those from whom the flood has taken everything.”

Authorities in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate said 60 people had died there, including at least 12 residents of a 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.

Rescuers are rushing to help people trapped in their homes in the town of Erftstadt, south west of Cologne. Regional authorities said several people had died after their houses collapsed due to subsidence, and aerial pictures showed what appeared to be a massive sinkhole.

“We managed to get 50 people out of their houses last night,” said Frank Rock, head of the county administration. “We know of 15 people who still need to be rescued.”

Several villages have been evacuated in Germany amid fears a dam could break during the devastating floods.

Authorities told people living in that part of Rhine-Sieg county, south of Cologne, to leave because they are below the Steinbach reservoir, Associated Press reports.

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