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Thunderstorms bring heavy rainfall and flooding to central Europe

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By Euronews with agencies
Fallen trees and broken branches have buried and heavily damaged cars near Zurich.
Fallen trees and broken branches have buried and heavily damaged cars near Zurich.   -   Copyright  Ennio Leanza/Keystone via AP
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Heavy summer thunderstorms have caused widespread damage and flooding in Germany and Switzerland.

One man is missing in the German state of Saxony, as authorities suspect he was swept away by a raging stream. Firefighters have resumed their search in Joehstadt, where the man had reportedly been trying to save his property from rising waters.

Authorities in Hof County, near Germany's eastern border with the Czech Republic, issued a disaster alert late on Tuesday as some areas lost power overnight.

Germany’s DWD weather service said 80 litres of rain per square metre fell in the region in the space of just twelve hours.

In Hagen, firefighters had to rescue several drivers whose vehicles had become stuck in a flooded tunnel road. Residents in the nearby town of Erkrath have also been warned that the local sewage system had been overloaded by rain.

Officials had warned of "extreme storms" in the Eifel region, southwest of Cologne, due to particularly heavy rainfall.

Persistent rain in recent days has swelled rivers across Germany, and the Rhine is predicted to hit the first high-water mark on Thursday or Friday, triggering restrictions to shipping.

But the wet weather has been welcomed by some forestry officials in Germany after three particularly dry summers in a row.

Switzerland raises flood alert

On Tuesday, Swiss police said that a local airport hangar in the southern town of Magadino had partially collapsed due to strong winds and heavy rain overnight. No injuries have been reported, but several planes were damaged, the authorities said.

Meanwhile, trees were blown onto roads and rail tracks in Zurich, causing travel chaos for commuters.

Ti-Press/Elia Bianchi/Keystone via AP
A hangar at the local airport of Locarno in Magadino, southern Switzerland, was badly damaged.Ti-Press/Elia Bianchi/Keystone via AP

Switzerland has also warned citizens that several rivers could burst their banks, while some Alpine passes were temporarily closed due to heavy snowfall.

More than four centimetres of rain fell on Zurich overnight on Monday and over 3.1 centimetres of rain fell in just 10 minutes on nearby Waldegg, according to broadcaster SRF.

Officials in the de facto capital, Bern, are preparing for possible flooding by installing floating dams.

The country's meteorological services have warned that further rain is forecast, and also urged caution of potential landslides.

Authorities near Lake Lucerne Lake Geneva, and Lake Zurich have also issued alerts for local residents and shipping companies.

Lake Lucerne, in particular, is at a very high risk of flooding, warned MeteoSchweiz.

Belgium and the Netherlands also affected

Water authorities in the southern Dutch province of Limburg have warned that the heavy rainfall will turn streams into dangerously fast-flowing torrents and urged the public to stay away from them.

Boat owners were also advised to steer clear of the Maas river due to strong currents and debris being washed downstream.

Dutch media have broadcast images of people being rescued from a historic mill that was partially submerged under floodwaters.

Swollen rivers are expected to overflow into their floodplains later in the week.

This usually occurs in Spring, when major rivers, such as the Rhine and Maas rise due to melting snow in European mountains.