Dozens of dead and missing in storms over West Germany


Damaged houses can be seen along the swollen Ahr in Insul, western Germany, on July 15, 2021.

Michael Probst / AP

Berlin – Heavy storms have flooded parts of West Germany, dumping enough rain to turn roads into raging rivers and cut off entire cities with floods. At least 33 people were confirmed dead Thursday and dozen were still missing as rescue workers tried every possible way to get into flooded areas.

Six houses collapsed in the Eifel, and people had to seek refuge on the roofs of other buildings nearby. At least five people lost their lives there alone and several other houses threatened to collapse, a police spokesman told CBS News.

A dam threatened to break and put many more houses at risk.

The number of people officially reported missing was almost 70 on Thursday, the police said, when the Bundeswehr was used in search and rescue operations in the west of the country.

APTOPIX Germany Europe Weather
Cars are covered with debris in Hagen, Germany, 15 July 2021, which was brought about by the flooding of the Nahma river the night before.

Martin Meissner / AP

In some districts in the severely affected federal states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, disaster reports have been submitted. Schools and daycare centers had to close, traffic was paralyzed, electricity and mobile networks broke out in many places.

Among the dead was a 46-year-old firefighter who was swept away by the floods while rescuing a man, police confirmed on Wednesday. Just two hours later, a 52-year-old firefighter collapsed and died on an assignment in another area.

In the North Rhine-Westphalian district of Euskirchen, eight deaths have been confirmed, the state government announced in a Facebook post.

A woman looks at the rubble that caused the flooding beside the Ahr. brought with it
A woman looks at rubble left after the flooding of the Ahr after heavy rains in Schuld on July 15, 2021.


“Communication has largely failed, Internet and telephone connections are limited in many parts of the district,” said the post, noting that even the emergency number was out of order. “Rescues are taking place. Sometimes there is no access.”

Since operations on a number of lines have ceased, Deutsche Bahn advised travelers to avoid the state of North Rhine-Westphalia entirely if possible.

There were four confirmed flood deaths in neighboring Belgium. The same storm system dumped enough rain in the Netherlands and Luxembourg to cause flooding.

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