Update 20:49 – At least 42 people have died in western Germany and many more are missing following severe floods, police say, according to BBC.
The worst of the flooding has been in the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, where buildings and cars have been washed away.
At least six others have died in neighbouring Belgium, and the city of Liège has urged all residents to leave and the Netherlands has also been badly hit, with flooding rivers damaging many houses in the southern province of Limburg. A number of care homes have also been evacuated.
It follows record rainfall in parts of western Europe that has caused major rivers to burst their banks.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is in the US ahead of a meeting with President Joe Biden, said she was “grieving those who have lost their lives” in the flooding.
Update 15:40 – At least 33 people have died in Germany and dozens were missing on Thursday as record rainfall in western Europe caused rivers to burst their banks, swept away homes and flooded cellars, according to Reuters.
Flooding in western Germany has left six people dead and many missing, and caused at least six houses to collapse, according to CNBC.
Police said on Thursday that four people were dead and 30 missing around the wine-growing hub of Ahrweiler, south of Bonn, after the Ahr river, which flows into the Rhine, burst its banks, bringing down the houses. Around 50 were stranded on roofs, and more houses were at risk of collapse.
“There are many places where fire brigades and rescue workers have been deployed. We don’t yet have a very precise picture because rescue measures are continuing,” a police spokesperson said.
Two firefighters died in the Sauerland region, northeast of Bonn, on Wednesday, police said. The news agency DPA said one had drowned and a second had collapsed after a rescue operation.
Rail and road transport were disrupted, and shipping on the Rhine, an important trade artery, was suspended.
More heavy rain was due in southwestern Germany, on the upper reaches of the German Rhine, on Thursday and Friday, the German Weather Service said.