Severe flooding in Western Europe after the area experienced levels of rain not seen in a century caused over 40 deaths in Germany as flash floods swept through the countries, causing buildings to collapse.  At least six died in Belgium, and the neighboring countries of Luxembourg and the Netherlands were also affected.

Authorities said at least 28 people died in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate and 18 people died in the district of Ahrweiler.  Police said as many as 50 people in Germany were trapped on rooftops while at least 70 people are missing. The German Weather Service on Wednesday had issued a warning of extreme precipitation for the western region of the country.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a statement: “I am shocked by the catastrophe that so many people in the flood areas have to suffer. My condolences go out to the relatives of the dead and missing. I thank the many tireless helpers and emergency services from the bottom of my heart.”

U.S. President Joe Biden, who met with Merkel as she visited the White House on Thursday, said: “I want to express to you and to the people of Germany my sincere condolences and the condolence of the American people for the devastating loss of life and the destruction due to the flooding over the past 24 hours in Germany and neighboring countries. It’s a tragedy and our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones.”

Editorial credit: M. Volk /

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