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Liege bracing for a higher death toll as rescue efforts continue

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By Shona Murray
People use rubber rafts in floodwaters after the Meuse River broke its banks during heavy flooding in Liege, Belgium
People use rubber rafts in floodwaters after the Meuse River broke its banks during heavy flooding in Liege, Belgium   -   Copyright  Credit: AP
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Rescue efforts are moving apace in Liege following an extreme storm and subsequent flooding that left at least 23 dead, according to Belgian media.

Authorities are bracing themselves for a higher death toll as search and rescue missions make their way to residential areas.

“The river is calming down, we hope, but of course the situation is not totally and fully under control because now we have to see all the aftermath and the consequences," Christine Defraigne, the deputy mayor of Liege, told Euronews.

"So we expect to find corpses, bodies, victims. So my thoughts are going to all the victims and the families who have lost, and who have lost everything also. There are people that we have to find."

But it’s impossible at this stage to estimate the level of destruction to people’s homes and lives. Thousands of houses and businesses are without electricity and water. All railway lines are down.

Neighbours are doing their best to assist in the rescue of the most vulnerable.

“The cars are completely disappeared, and the men and women have water until here (points to her neck). I haven’t seen this anywhere before," said Anna, a local resident in Rue du Dime.

"But there are many people despite the water and so on.. many young people are here to help each other."

Pet owners have stayed with their animals until they were assisted to leave.

Anne and her dog, Thanos, were helped from their home on Friday – they’ve been taken by local authorities to a nearby sports hall set up to aid those forced to flee.

“For me, I wanted to leave because I have health problems and I feel isolated because I have no telephone, no GSM, nothing left,” she said.