extreme weather

Scenes of Devastation After Deadly Floods in Germany and Belgium

At least 188 people are dead, hundreds missing, and the flooding isn’t over.

Flood damage captured by a drone camera on Friday in the town of Erftstadt, southwest of Köln, in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in western Germany. Photo: David Young/dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images
Flood damage captured by a drone camera on Friday in the town of Erftstadt, southwest of Köln, in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in western Germany. Photo: David Young/dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images

At least 188 people are dead and hundreds of others still missing after torrential rainfall triggered catastrophic flooding and landslides in parts of Germany, Belgium, Austria, and the Netherlands over the past week. Where floodwaters have begun to recede, local authorities’ search and rescue efforts continue, including the grim work of looking for bodies in homes, buildings, and vehicles. Recovery efforts are also underway, picking up the pieces and pumping out the water in mostly riverfront communities which were struck. In Germany, at least 160 people have lost their lives in the floods, almost all in the western states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, and hundreds more are still missing. More than 15,000 rescue workers, including police and the military, have been deployed in Germany for the recovery effort. In Belgium, at least 31 people were killed in the floods, and 163 people were still missing as of Sunday. Power, water, and gas outages persist across the region as well.

Scientists and European officials have linked the extreme weather, a slow-moving low-pressure system which dumped five to seven inches of rain or more within 24 hours in some areas of western Europe — to the effects of climate change.

Over the weekend, the flooding shifted to east and south Germany, as well as Austria, after rivers swollen by heavy rain in Alpine areas overwhelmed several towns, reportedly killing at least one person in Bavaria on Saturday night.

Dramatic footage of the floodwaters and rescue efforts continues to emerge, as do startling images of the aftermath. Below is some of what we’ve seen.

This tweeted video shows the Austrian town of Hallein being overwhelmed by the Salzach River on Saturday:

Germany’s Ahrweiler district, south of Köln, appears to have been hit hardest by last week’s floods. At least 110 people were killed there and the death toll is expected to climb.

Volunteers and residents start the clean up process at their shops and restaurants on July 18 in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Germany. Photo: Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images
A van is buried by debris and gravel in Ahrbrück, Germany on July 18, while more debris, the river Ahr and a partially destroyed house can be seen in the background. Photo: Philipp von Ditfurth/dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images
Search and rescue workers rest in Bad Neuenahr, Germany on July 18. The Ahrweiler district in north Rhineland-Palatinate was the hardest hit region. Photo: Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
72-year-old Jutta Schnelleckes (L) sits in the living room while her husband, Ulrich Schnelleckes (R) and his dog Urmel, sit on Saturday in the bedroom of their apartment which was completely destroyed by flooding in Bad Neuenahr, Germany. The furniture has been overturned. Electricity and water do not work. She has been living in the mess for 2 days. Her has an injured foot. A neighbor helps shovel out mud. Firefighters will later escort her out of her apartment and find shelter. While the water masses are slowly receding from many flooded areas in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, the search for fatalities continues in the rubble of the disaster areas. Photo: Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images
Camping trailers, debris and garbage pile up in the Ahr River in front of Kreuzberg Castle in Altenahr, Germany on Saturday, July 17. Photo: Lino Mirgeler/dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images

This is a wider shot of the destruction last week in the German town of Erftstadt, which was evacuated (a closer look at where the crater meets the edge of the town can be seen atop this post):

The town of Erftstadt, southwest of Köln, in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in western Germany. Photo: Handout/Rhein-Erft-Kreis/Twitter
Flood damage in Ahrweilerkreis, Germany, on Friday. Photo: Action Press/Shutterstock

A video from Thursday:

A destroyed piano is seen amid debris next to a road that has partially slid away after floods caused major damage in Schuld near Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, western Germany, on July 16. Photo: CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP via Getty Images
A man surveys a damaged house after flooding in Ensival, Verviers, Belgium. Photo: Francisco Seco/AP/Shutterstock
The German village of Kordel, flooded by the high water of the Kyll River. Photo: Sebastian Schmitt/picture alliance via Getty Images

On Thursday, The Guardian compiled drone and helicopter footage for a more expansive view of the flooded region:

A woman is trying to move in a flooded street following heavy rains in Liege on July 15. The provincial disaster plan has been declared in Liege, Luxembourg, and Namur provinces after large amounts of rainfall. Water in several rivers has reached alarming levels. Photo: BRUNO FAHY/Belga/AFP via Getty Images
A man helps a woman walk along a flooded street in Spa, Belgium, as bad weather conditions cause floods in the city center on July 14, 2021. Photo: BRUNO FAHY/Belga/AFP via Getty Images
A child looks on as water floods through a fence, in Wessem, Netherlands, on Friday. Photo: Eva Plevier/REUTERS
Devastating Scenes After Deadly Floods in Germany, Belgium