At least 19 people have died and dozens have been reported record rainfall in western Germany it caused the rivers to burst their banks, razing flooded houses and cellars.
Police said four people were killed and 70 missing Thursday around the Ahrweiler wine center in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, after the Ahr River flowing into the Rhine burst and demolished half a dozen houses.
“We have never seen such a big catastrophe, it is really devastating,” Malu Dreyer, prime minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, told senior state lawmakers.
In the north, in North Rhine-Westphalia, two people were found dead in flooded wineries in Cologne, with more dead in Solingen, Unna and Rheinbach, according to police. On Wednesday night, two firefighters died in the state: one drowned while the other collapsed after a rescue mission.
About 50 people were stranded on the roofs of Ahrweiler and there were more houses at risk of collapse. Police helicopters flew from neighboring states to lift people’s safety, Koblenz police said.
Meteorological experts said the rains in the region over the past 24 hours had been unprecedented, as an almost stationary low-pressure weather system caused sustained local rainfall also in the west in France and the Netherlands.
The heaviest rainfall occurs in southwestern Germany, in the upper part of the German Rhine, later Thursday and Friday, according to the German Meteorological Service.