BERLIN: Storms caused heavy flooding across parts of western and central Europe overnight, and a man swept away by a raging stream in eastern Germany remained missing on Wednesday.
Firefighters resumed their search for the man in the Saxony state town of Joehstadt on Wednesday morning. German news agency dpa reported that he had been trying to secure his property from rising waters when he disappeared.
Firefighters in the city of Hagen, in the North Rhine-Westphalia state, rescued several drivers whose vehicles got stuck in a flooded underpass. Videos on social media showed streets in the western German city filled with knee-high water and others buried by landslides.
A fallen tree trapped a woman in the German town of Mettmann, and responders had to hold her head up to keep her from drowning in rising flood waters until firefighters could free her. Residents in nearby Erkrath were warned not to shower or use their washers because rain had overloaded the local sewage system.
Hof county in Bavaria issued a disaster alert late Tuesday as basements filled with water, trees were uprooted and some areas lost power overnight. Germany’s DWD weather service said the region saw 80 liters (more than 21 gallons) of rain per square meter in the space of 12 hours.
German government spokesman Steffen Seibert described the images from regions hardest hit by flooding as terrible.
Even though not every event, not every flooding or local incident, is related to climate change, many scientists tell us that the frequency, the intensity and the regularity with which this happens is a consequence of climate change, Seibert said.
DWD meteorologists predicted further extreme storms in the western and central parts of Germany through Thursday, with peak rainfall possibly reaching 200 liters per square metre.
In the the neighboring Czech Republic, firefighters received 800 calls about incidents ranging from fallen trees to flooded basements. A highway linking the capital, Prague, to the east of the country partly flooded overnight. Thousands of households remained without electricity on Wednesday.
Mud inundated houses in some towns in eastern Belgium as sustained rains hit the Ardennes hills hard. The tourist center of Spa, close to the famed Formula One track, could not handle the water streaming down from the surrounding hills that turned streets into rivers.
Cars piled on top of one another and cellars flooded, but no serious injuries were reported.
The Belgian meteorological institute issued a red alert Wednesday for the zone around Liege, some 100 kilometres (60 miles) east of Brussels, which was forecast get more rain in a day than the area would normally receive in a whole summer month. The rain is expected to last until Friday.
Authorities in the Netherlands warned the heavy rainfall in the southern province of Limburg could turn streams into dangerously fast-flowing torrents and urged the public to stay away from them. Boat owners were advised to steer clear of the Maas river due to strong currents and debris being washed downstream.