Police in Germany and Belgium have told ‘disaster tourists’ coming to take pictures of devastating floods that has killed more than 160 people to stay away because they are hampering rescue efforts.
Cops in the hard-hit region of Euskirchen, western Germany, warned people flying photography drones over badly flooded areas that they are interfering with emergency service drones searching for hundreds of people that remain missing following the deadliest European flooding in decades.
Meanwhile the mayor of Olne, a small Belgian town between the cities of Liege and Verviers which were submerged when the Meuse and Vestre rivers broke their banks, slammed ‘reprehensible’ visitors clogging up the roads with cars and preventing emergency vehicles from getting through.
‘We need solidarity, not voyeurism,’ Cedric Halin told state broadcaster RTBF.
And in the Netherlands – which was also hit by flooding but has not reported any casualties – local volunteers complained that out-of-towners have been stealing their bikes after they cycled to help with the cleanup, while shop-owners cleaning out their ruined businesses said items had been stolen when they turned their backs.
Authorities in Roermond, in the badly-hit Limburg region, even went so far as to threaten gawpers with fines as they continued to arrive Friday. ‘Give all emergency services space to do their work,’ a statement said.
Cranes help clear up the damage caused by devastating floods in Belgium which also struck neighbouring Belgium and have killed more than 150 people, though many aer still unaccounted for
A pile of broken trees and debris is seen in a flooded area following heavy rainfalls in Kreuzberg, Germany
Residents and shopkeepers try to clear mud from their homes and move unusable furniture outside in Ahrweiler, Germany
A wrecked classic car is seen amid debris washed away by heavy flooding in western Europe which has killed 150
German Agriculture Minister Julia Klockner surveys the damage caused by flooding in Altenahr, Germany
A resident piles up destroyed and muddy belongings out of a house after the floods caused major damage in Schuld near Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, western Germany
Workers clear a destroyed street after the floods caused major damage in Schuld near Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler
A view of destroyed houses in Erftstadt-Blessem, Germany, which were destroyed after the ground beneath them collapsed into a nearby gravel pit
Three firefighters look at severely damaged ancient houses after the floods caused major damage in Schuld near Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, western Germany
A view flood damaged area in Altenahr, Germany after a severe rainstorm and flash floods hit western states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia states
A car sits on its roof in Altenahr, western Germany, after heavy rains brought severe flooding to the area
A bed and desk teeter on the edge of a destroyed house in Pepinster, Belgium, after flooding in the region
Gravestones are barely visible above floodwaters in the Erftstadt region of Germany, after the river Erft burst its banks
The death toll in western Germany’s Rhineland-Palatinate state, home to the badly hit Ahrweiler county, rose to 98.
Another 43 people were confirmed dead in neighboring North Rhine-Westphalia state. Belgium’s national crisis center said the country’s confirmed death toll rose to 27.
Days of heavy rain turned normally minor rivers and streets into raging torrents this week and caused the disastrous flooding that swept away cars, engulfed homes and trapped residents.
Immediately after the floods hit on Wednesday and Thursday, German authorities listed large numbers of people as missing – something apparently caused in large part by confusion, multiple reporting and communications difficulties in the affected areas, some of which lacked electricity and telephone service.
Cow is found alive 60 MILES from its pasture after being washed away in Dutch floods
Stunned rescuers in the Netherlands have found a cow alive 60 miles from its pasture after it was washed away in devastating flood that hit the south of the country.
The cow went missing from a farm in Echt in Limburg, near the river Meuse which broke its banks amid flooding overnight Wednesday, before being found on Saturday in the town of Maas.
Passersby noticed the animal submerged in water with only its snout visible before calling emergency crews, who pulled the beast out.
A vet was then summoned to examine the animal who then discovered where it had come from. The farmer has been contacted, and is on the way to retrieve it.
‘It is very surprising,’ one rescuer told local station Omroep Brabant. ‘We don’t know whether the animal travelled the whole way in the water, or whether there were also parts in which the cow walked.’
By Saturday, authorities still feared finding more people dead, but said numbers unaccounted for had dropped constantly, without offering specific figures.
In Belgium, 103 people were listed as missing Saturday, but the crisis center said lost or uncharged cellphones and people taken to hospitals without identification who hadn’t had an opportunity to contact relatives were believed to be factors in the tally.
Meanwhile, the receding floodwaters eased access across much of the affected regions and revealed the extent of the damage.
‘A lot of people have lost everything they spent their lives building up – their possessions, their home, the roof over their heads,’ German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after meeting rescue workers and others in the town of Erftstadt.
‘It may only be possible to clear up in weeks how much damage needs to be compensated,’ he said.
Steinmeier said that people in the affected areas need continuing support.
‘Many people in these regions have nothing left but their hope, and we must not disappoint this hope,’ he said.
In Erftstadt, a town southwest of Cologne, a harrowing rescue effort unfolded on Friday when the ground in a neighborhood gave way. At least three houses and part of a mansion in the town’s Blessem district collapsed.
The German military used armored vehicles to clear away cars and trucks overwhelmed by the floodwaters on a nearby road, some of which remained at least partly submerged.
Officials feared that some people didn’t manage to escape in Erftstadt, but no casualties were confirmed by Saturday afternoon.
In the Ahrweiler area, police warned of a potential risk from downed power lines and urged curious visitors to stay away. They complained on Twitter that would-be sightseers were blocking some roads.
Around 700 people were evacuated from part of the German town of Wassenberg, on the Dutch border, after the breach of a dike on the Rur river.
Julia Dillenburger, 39, (left) from Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, was unaccounted for on Saturday morning. Karl-Heinz Zimmermann (right), a 93-year-old grandfather from Bad Neuenahr was another missing
A second family – Nicole Berg (left), Patrick Berg, and their son Dennis (left) – were among the missing. Husband and wife Aida Maria, 74, and Klaus Wolfgang Huber, 76, (right) are unaccounted for and were last heard from on Wednesday evening
Diana Janko, 60, (left) was last seen a few days ago on Facebook video call. While Gerhard Hubner, 60, (right) was also among the missing. He was last seen on Wednesday evening
There are fears the crisis could worsen the a dam at the Steinbach reservoir (insert) on the verge of collapse due to the pressure of water behind it, as 4,500 people living in three villages below (top right) told to evacuate their homes
Search and rescue efforts continued on Saturday morning with hundreds still missing following severe rain and flash floods in Germany
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visited the disaster zone in Belgium on Saturday with Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and vice Prime Minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne
German soldiers helped the rescue efforts on Saturday, recovering cars that had been swept away in flash flooding
Search and rescue workers check submerged cars for hundreds of people still missing following days of heavy rainfall and flooding in Germany
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (second left) and Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia Armin Laschet (second right) visited Erftstadt fire department to get an overview of flooding in the region
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (centre) visited flooded parts of the city of Venlo in the Netherlands on Friday following days of severe rain and flooding
Search and rescue services look amid the debris for survivors after days of heavy rainfall and severe flooding in Pepinster, Belgium
Search and rescue services resumed looking for flood survivors in Pepinster, Belgium, on Saturday with hundreds still missing and at least 153 confirmed dead
Residents survey the damage caused by days of heavy rainfall and flooding in Pepinster, Belgium, on Saturday
Residents start a lengthy clean-up in Pepinster, Belgium, after flash floods caused widespread damage in large areas of the country
Search and rescue teams looked through rubble in Pepinster, Belgium, on Saturday, hoping to find flood survivors
Residents start to clear up broken trees and debris strewn across streets in Pepinster, Belgium, after the town was devastated by flash floods
Residents in Ahrweiler, western Germany, start the clean up after heavy rains caused mudslides and flooding in the region
Volunteers prepare food for flood affected residents in Rochefort, south east of Brussels, after the region was hit by severe flooding
The German fire brigade pump water out of the Steinbach dam after engineers warned the dam was dangerously close to collapse after three months’ worth of rain fell on the region in just one week
Submerged trucks and vehicles started to re-emerge on Saturday following days of extreme flooding, Germany’s worst floods in more than 200 years
Residents fill sandbags as they prepare for further flooding after days of heavy rainfall in Erftstadt Dirmerzheim, Germany
Visiting Erftstadt with Steinmeier, North Rhine-Westphalia governor Armin Laschet promised to organize aid for those immediately affected ‘in the coming days.’
He said regional and federal authorities would discuss in the coming days how to help rebuilding efforts. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet plans to discuss the issue on Wednesday.
‘We will do everything so that what needs to be rebuilt can be rebuilt,’ Laschet said.
In eastern Belgium, train lines and roads remained blocked in many areas.
A cafe owner in the devastated town of Pepinster broke down in tears when King Philippe and Queen Mathilde visited Friday to offer comfort to residents.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo visited flood-damaged towns Saturday.
A resident of the Belgian town of Herk-de-Stad said she put off sleeping to try to empty her house of water.
‘We have been pumping all night long trying to get the water out of the house,’ Elke Lenaerts told broadcaster VTM on Saturday.
Parts of the southern Netherlands also experienced heavy flooding, though thousands of residents were allowed to return home Saturday morning after being evacuated on Thursday and Friday.
Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who visited the region on Friday, said that ‘first, there was corona, now these floods, and soon people will have to work on cleanup and recovery.’
‘It is disaster after disaster after disaster. But we will not abandon Limburg,’ the southern province hit by the floods, he added.
His government has declared the flooding a state of emergency, opening up national funds for those affected.
Among other efforts to help the flood victims, the Hertog Jan brewery, which is based in the affected area, handed out 3,000 beer crates so locals could raise their belongings off the ground to protect them from the flooding.
An emergency dike in the town of Horn didn’t hold and some houses were inundated. Authorities issued a warning to stay off the Maas River because of debris, and rescuers worked to save a cow stuck neck deep in muddy waters.
German Bundeswehr soldiers help search for flood victims in submerged vehicles on the highway in Erftstadt-Blessem
A soldier tries to open the window of a car as members of the German armed forces help the search for flood victims
Germany’s Bundeswehr forces used heavily armoured vehicles to recover vehicles stuck on roads in Erftstadt-Blessem after days of heavy flooding
Members of the Bundeswehr forces were deployed to aid the recovery of vehicles following heavy rainfall and flooding in Erftstadt-Blessem, Germany
A pile of broke trees and rubbish in a flooded area of Kreuzberg, Germany, following days of flash flooding that has killed at least 153 people
Debris piled up in Kreuzberg, Germany, on July 17, in central Europe’s latest flooding disaster that has killed at least 133 in Germany alone
Debris and broken trees lined up alongside a railway in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Germany, following days of extreme weather
A woman walks between donations in kind that are lying in a hall on the grounds of the Nuerburgring race track in Nuerburg, western Germany
Residents started clearing rubble on Saturday after days of severe flooding in Valkenburg aan de Geul, the Netherlands