Deadly floods hit western Europe

Dozens of people have died and dozens more reported missing as heavy rain and flooding inundated western Europe.

Rivers burst their banks, sweeping away cars and bringing down trees, as well as half a dozen houses.

Police said at least 18 people had died and 70 were missing in the German wine-growing hub of Ahrweiler after the river Ahr burst its banks.

Edgar Gillessen's parent's home was damaged.

"What I experienced? It was catastrophic. I've been waiting for my daughter and my wife who were out and about, my daughter on her way back from Trier. I wasn't able to reach them, everything was down. I myself live up there, I wasn't affected, but the people down here, oh dear, having seen how the water washed through here, with tractors, gas cylinders, it's simply catastrophic."

Hundreds of soldiers were helping with the rescue efforts, using tanks to clear roads of landslides and fallen trees, whilse helicoprters winched those stranded on rooftops to safety.

The floods have caused Germany's worst mass loss of life in years.

Armin Laschet, premier of the hard-hit state of North Rhine Westphalia and possible future chancellor, blamed the extreme weather on global warming during a visit to the area.

Torrential rain and flooding also hit other parts of western Europe.

In Belgium, around 10 houses collapsed in Pepinster and residents were evacuated from more than 1,000 homes.

Weather experts have described the rains in the region as unprecedented.

As residents begin cleaning up, the scale of the destruction became clear.

The German Weather Service has warned more heavy rain is due in southwestern Germany later on Thursday (July 15) and Friday (July 16).

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