At least seven people have died and several people are missing in Germany 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 four people had died in Ahrweiler county, and about 50 were trapped on the roofs of their houses awaiting rescue.
Six houses collapsed overnight in the village of Schuld. “Many people have been reported missing to us,” police said.
Schuld is located in the Eifel, a volcanic region of rolling hills and small valleys south west of Cologne.
The extent of the damage in the region is still unclear after many villages were cut off by floodwater and landslides that made roads impassable. Videos posted on social media showed cars floating down streets and houses partly collapsed in some places.
Authorities have declared an emergency in the region after days of heavy rain that also affected large parts of western and central Germany, as well as neighbouring countries, causing widespread damage.
Police said two men, aged 77 and 82, died after their basements were flooded in the western cities of Kamen and Wuppertal, where authorities warned that a dam could burst.
Authorities in Rhine-Sieg county, south of Cologne, ordered the evacuation of several villages below the Steinbachtal reservoir amid fears the dam there could also break.
A fireman drowned on Wednesday during rescue work in the western German town of Altena and another collapsed during rescue operations at a power plant in Werdohl-Elverlingsen.
One man is missing in the eastern town of Joehstadt after disappearing while trying to secure his property from rising waters, authorities said.
Rail connections were suspended in large parts of North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state. Governor Armin Laschet is expected to visit the flood-hit city of Hagen later.
German weather service DWD predicted the rainfall will ease on Thursday.
Relentless rain through the night worsened conditions in eastern Belgium, where one person was reported drowned and at least one other was missing.
Some towns saw water levels rise to unprecedented levels and saw their centres turned into gushing rivers.
Major roads were inundated and in the south and east of the nation, the railway service said all traffic was stopped, adding that “alternative transport is highly unlikely”.
In eastern Eupen, on the German border, one man was reported dead after he was swept away by a torrent, a local governor told RTBf network.
In Liege, the Meuse river could break its banks by early afternoon and spill into the heart of the city. Police warned residents to take precautionary measures.
Authorities in the southern Dutch town of Valkenburg, close to the German and Belgian borders, evacuated a care home and hospice overnight amid flooding that turned the tourist town’s main street into a river, media reported.
The Dutch government sent 70 troops to the southern province of Limburg late on Wednesday to help with tasks including transporting evacuees and filling sandbags as rivers burst their banks. There were no reports of injuries linked to flooding in the Netherlands.
Unusually intense rain has also inundated a stretch of north-east France this week, downing trees and forcing the closure of dozens of roads.
A train route to Luxembourg was disrupted, and firefighters evacuated dozens of people from homes near the Luxembourg and German border and in the Marne region, according to local broadcaster France Bleu.
The equivalent of two months of rain has fallen on some areas in the last one or two days, according to the French national weather service. With the ground already saturated, the service forecast more downpours on Thursday and issued flood warnings for 10 regions.