A flood of mud overwhelmed houses and towns, causing extensive damage. And dead. West Germany has been on its knees for several hours due to strong rains and floods which are breaking down in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine in particular. Local media – which broadcast images of the tragedy live – speak of “katastrophenfall”: a disaster that already brings with it a dramatic toll. Currently, they have risen to 42 le victims caused by the raging flood and at least 50 are missing. In Leverkusen, a hospital with 468 patients, an emergency evacuation was necessary during the night, following a power outage, after the Dhunn River broke its banks . In the town of Schuld, in Rhineland Palatinate, one of the worst hit centers, four houses were completely washed away and two more were moved. Road and rail traffic was interrupted. The Steinbachtalsperre dam, in North Rhine-Westphalia, is specially observed and risks collapse due to the pressure caused by the heavy rains that have swollen the waterways. For this reason, the city of Rheinbach was partially evacuated.
Given the gravity of the situation, thearmy, which in these hours is taking part in the rescue operations of people who have been stranded. Many of them are located on the roofs of their homes, overwhelmed by the river of mud which made the affected cities unrecognizable. About 200 Bundeswehr soldiers, with heavy vehicles, were deployed in North Rhine Westphalia, where torrential rains fell overnight. In the nearby land of Rhineland-Palatinate, the defense ministry has made available 70 soldiers with multifunctional vehicles capable of reaching isolated villages. Four helicopters were also made available for rescue and transport.
The evolution of the emergency situation is followed with apprehension by the local authorities. And the message from the German Chancellor has also arrived Angela Merkel, declared herself “shocked by the catastrophe”, close to “the families of the victims” and those of the missing. Still on the institutional front, the president of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, expressed on Twitter its closeness to the affected countries, ensuring the European Union’s readiness to provide aid. “The countries concerned can make use of the EU civil protection mechanism,” he added. A concept reaffirmed also by the President of the European Parliament, the Italian David Sassoli.
Relentless rains have also worsened flood conditions in eastern Belgium, where one person has drowned and at least one other is missing. The situation is also an emergency in Luxembourg and the Netherlands. And thealert therefore remains very high; in the next few hours, in fact, new abundant rains are expected that could further complicate the situation and the – already difficult – rescue activity.