FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Rescuers searched flood-ravaged areas of western Germany on Saturday for survivors as water levels remained high in many cities and houses continued to collapse in the country’s worst natural disaster amid century.
At least 133 people have died in the floods, including about 90 people in the Ahrweiler district south of Cologne, according to police estimates on Saturday. Hundreds of people are still missing.
About 700 residents were evacuated Friday night after a dam broke in the town of Wassenberg, near Cologne, authorities said.
In recent days, floods, which have affected mainly the states of Rhineland Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, have cut off electricity and communications to entire communities.
The floods have also affected parts of Belgium and the Netherlands. At least 20 people have died in Belgium.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Armin Laschet, Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia state, were scheduled to visit Erftstadt, one of the hardest-hit cities, on Saturday.
Laschet is the candidate of the ruling CDU party in the September general elections. The devastation of the floods could intensify the debate on climate change ahead of the vote.
Scientists have long said that climate change will cause more intense rains. But determining its role in these relentless downpours will take at least several weeks of research, scientists said Friday.
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