More than 20 people have died and dozens of people were missing Thursday in Germany and neighboring Belgium after heavy flooding turned streams and streets into raging torrents, sweeping away cars and causing buildings to collapse. Police in the western city of Koblenz said Thursday that four people had died in Ahrweiler county, and about 50 were trapped on the roofs of their houses awaiting rescue. the AP reports. Up to 70 people were reported missing after several houses collapsed overnight in the village of Schuld in the Eifel, a region of rolling hills and small valleys southwest of Cologne. Two firefighters died during rescue operations in North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany's most populous state.
The full extent of the damage is still unclear because many villages have been cut off by floodwater and landslides that made roads impassable. Authorities used inflatable boats and helicopters, and the German army deployed 200 soldiers to assist in the rescue operation. "There are people dead, there are people missing, there are many who are still in danger," the governor of Rhineland-Palatinate state, Malu Dreyer, told the regional parliament. "We have never seen such a disaster. It's really devastating." Across the border in Belgium, the Vesdre river broke its banks and sent masses of water churning through the streets of Pepinster, close to Liege, its destructive power bringing down some buildings.
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