Mass destruction as floods sweep across western Germany
Intense flooding caused about 200 casualties and extensive destruction throughout Western Germany
Houses collapsed, people trapped on roofs
Heavy rainfalls and storms pounded Germany’s western states and caused rivers to burst their banks, inundating towns and villages. Torrential overflow swept away vehicles, destroyed roads and bridges and reduced some houses to rubble. Some survivors were trapped on their rooftops for hours before they were airlifted by helicopters.
The flood's damage and death toll—about 200 dead—made it one of the deadliest disasters to hit the country in more than half a century. During the height of the flooding, some 1,300 people were reported missing in just one German district, Ahrweiler.
Phone and power lines are still down in some areas, at least two highway roads need fundamental repair. The damage to infrastructure hampered immediate rescue efforts and threatened to leave the affected regions facing a long and difficult road to recovery.
Rescue workers face danger
At least four firefighters in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia lost their lives during rescue operations since flooding began Wednesday, according to Bernd Schneider, chairman of the NRW Firefighters Association.
Dams threaten to burst
Dams across the region reached their capacities and threaten to overflow amid the massive rainfall. The flood, damaged water facilities and created a water shortage in some regions.
A terrifying situation
Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the badly-hit town of Schuld, personally surveying the damage and speaking to residents and emergency workers. She described the situation as "terrifying" and called for more to be done to tackle climate change in the wake of the floods.
Army deployed to help out
Over a thousand soldiers and more than 200 military vehicles have been deployed in western Germany over the last few days, as volunteers line up to help flood victims. As the water begins to recede, questions are emerging over whether residents received timely warnings before the floods. Critics say that if the country was adequately prepared for disaster, the loss would have been much less.