German floods kill more than 130

Water levels remained high in parts of western Germany on Saturday (July 17) as rescue workers continued their search for survivors of the country's worst natural disaster in half a century.

The past several days of flooding have cut off entire communities power and communications, and collapsed homes.

And, according to police estimates early on Saturday, at least 133 people have died.

That includes some 90 people in the Ahrweiler district south of Cologne and hundreds remain missing.

Late on Friday (July 16) around 700 people were evacuated after a dam broke in the town of Wassenberg near Cologne, authorities said.

Flooding also continues to hit Belgium, where at least 20 people have died, and the Netherlands.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Armin Laschet, state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, were due in one of the hardest hit towns Erftstadt on Saturday.

Laschet is the ruling CDU party's candidate in September's general election.

He's blamed the extreme weather on global warming and said climate protection measures need to be stepped up.

The devastation caused by the floods could intensify the debate over climate change ahead of the vote.

It's long been linked to heavier downpours but scientists said on Friday that determining climate change's role in these floods could take several weeks to research.

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