Hundreds of people were still missing or unreachable, as several areas were inaccessible due to high water levels, while communication in some places was still inactive. Residents and business owners fought to pick up the pieces in the devastated cities. “Everything is completely destroyed. You don’t recognize the landscape, ”said a wine shop owner in the town of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler in Ahrweiler, fighting back tears.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Erftstadt in the North Rhine-Westphalia state, where the disaster killed at least 43 people. “We cry with those who have lost friends, family,” he said. “His fate is breaking our hearts.” Steinmeier said it would be weeks before full damage could be assessed, which is expected to require several billion euros to rebuild.
In Belgium, the death toll rose to 27, according to the national crisis center, which is coordinating the relief operation there. He added that 103 people were “missing or unreachable.” Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visited some areas on Saturday afternoon. Emergency services in the Netherlands also remained on high alert as overflowing rivers threatened the southern province of Limburg. Thousands of residents of the region have been evacuated in the last two days. The Dutch have so far reported no casualties. Search operations for the missing are underway in all three nations.