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Severe flooding wreaks havoc across northern Europe

The Moselle rises above the edge of the flood protection wall and flooded large parts of the old town Zell, Germany
The Moselle rises above the edge of the flood protection wall and flooded large parts of the old town Zell, Germany Copyright Thomas Frey/(c) Copyright 2024, dpa (www.dpa.de). Alle Rechte vorbehalten
Copyright Thomas Frey/(c) Copyright 2024, dpa (www.dpa.de). Alle Rechte vorbehalten
By Daniel Harper
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Severe flooding caused by heavy rainfall has inundated Voeren and Liège in Belgium, as well as parts of France and Germany.

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The municipality of Voeren in Limburg has been severely impacted by heavy rainfall, causing extensive flooding in the area. Streets are submerged, houses inundated, and the local disaster plan has been enacted to manage the emergency. 

"This is worse than in 2021," stated Mayor Joris Gaens, referring to the devastating floods that hit Voeren and the province of Liège three years ago. Emergency shelters have been set up for those affected.

The flooding commenced early on Friday evening when persistent rainstorms swept through Voeren. The local fire brigade promptly received numerous reports of flooded basements and streets. 

Efforts to mitigate the damage included the deployment of containers filled with sandbags, but the rising waters proved too formidable. 

"A lot of water fell in a very short time, causing the water to flow from the fields and fill the Voer," Mayor Gaens explained, referring to the river Voer.

Despite the rain easing, water continues to flow into Voeren from higher areas in Liège, exacerbating the situation.

Residents are advised to evacuate their homes if it is safe to do so. Emergency shelters have been arranged at the cultural centre in the neighbouring Dutch municipality of Eijsden. 

Liège under water

In Liège, the provincial disaster plan has also been activated due to the high risk of flooding. 

The Verviers fire brigade has been inundated with calls, primarily from the Herve plateau. Numerous streets in Dalhem, Liège, Soumagne, Trooz, and Beyne-Heusay are underwater, prompting around ten municipalities to request additional support. 

Although the heaviest rainfall has subsided, the Royal Meteorological Institute cautions that thunderstorms and heavy showers can occur with minimal warning.

Impact in France and Germany

The severe weather has also affected France and Germany. In France, between 40 to 75 mm of rain fell in a short span, leading to substantial disruptions. 

The A4 motorway from Strasbourg to Paris was partially closed, and over 2,000 emergency calls were made in the region. Météo France warns that the recorded rainfall could reach new highs.

Germany's Saarland region has experienced flooding and landslides, particularly affecting Saarbrücken. The interior ministry has reported widespread evacuations due to rising water levels, with no casualties so far. 

Chancellor Olaf Scholz, accompanied by Saarland Premier Anke Rehlinger, visited the affected areas on Saturday, underlining the gravity of the situation. 

Transport disruption in Belgium and the Netherlands

In Belgium, the A2 motorway near the border with South Limburg is partially closed due to flooding. 

Train services between Maastricht Randwyck and Visé were suspended until Sunday morning. 

Meanwhile, in the Dutch province of Limburg, two campsites have been evacuated as floodwaters rise.

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