Belgium fell silent for a minute of remembrance yesterday as it held a day of mourning for the victims of the devastating floods that left 200 dead in western Europe.
Heavy rains last week sent floodwaters sweeping through towns and villages, mostly in Belgium and Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel visited victims in one of the hardest-hit areas.
At least 31 people were killed in Belgium, with dozens still missing or unaccountable, while Germany on Tuesday increased its death toll to 169 as rescuers scoured the rubble for victims.
The number of missing in Belgium has fallen over the past two days as telephone contact is re-established and more people are traced.
The clean-up is still under way to help the regions hit hardest recover from the destruction that saw dozens of homes collapsed and cars piled on top of each other.
Belgium’s King Philippe and Queen Mathilde paid their respects at the fire station in Verviers, one of the hardest-hit towns.This is the first time since 2016 that Belgium has observed a national mourning when three days were declared following the March 22 attacks claimed by the Islamic State group, which killed 32 people and injured more than 340 in Brussels.
In neighbouring Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel met victims of the deluge still struggling to come to terms with the losses in the ravaged medieval town of Bad Munstereifel.
The damage is appalling, many are no longer habitable, she said, describing people who have lost everythin”.
The number of people missing in the country remains unclear, mainly because of disrupted communication networks.