Heavy rains and flooding that started in Europe on Wednesday continued, with 106 lives lost in Germany on Friday, and at least 20 in Belgium. Hundreds of people are still missing, and many are expected to not survive.
Images from across Europe show chasms that have engulfed houses and buildings. Streets lined with once tidy houses and shops have been gutted, their sewer and utility lines now exposed. Cars were swept away by torrents of water and left upside down or overturned against trees. Houses have been emptied, their contents mixed in oozing mud pits.
Raging rivers also washed away cell phone towers and fiber optic cables, further hampering rescue efforts.
Even some of the dikes that have long protected Holland have been overcome by water levels not seen since before the outbreak of World War I.
The flooding came the same week that Europe unveiled its ambitious plan to move away from fossil fuels to mitigate climate change and become carbon neutral by 2050. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of Germany, was among many who have linked the devastation to the need to deal with climate change.
“It is only when we take action against climate change that we can keep the events we are currently experiencing within limits,” he said.
Photos of the devastated areas show how much flooding has exceeded these limits.
A once bustling shopping street in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Germany, has become a dumping ground for goods damaged by flooding.
The destruction in parts of the Blessem district of Erftstadt, Germany, is complete.
The Aare River transformed an outdoor patio in Bern, Switzerland, into a pond.
A damaged bridge over the Ahr River in Schuld, Germany.
A wheel is the only clear clue that a vehicle is buried under mud and debris at Schuld.
A tree caught another car when it was swept away by flood waters in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler.
Its water-mined ballast, the rails of the tracks in Jemelle, Belgium, took on the appearance of a roller coaster.
A church and a cemetery after the floods in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler.
Schuld, one of Germany’s most devastated towns, lay in ruins on Friday.
Schuld’s surviving buildings are now surrounded by debris from the structures the Ahr swept away.
With water levels at heights not seen since 1911, parts of the Netherlands have been inundated, including Wessem.
Flood waters blocked a train just before a station in Kordel, Germany.
People turned to inflatable rafts in Liège, Belgium after the Meuse broke its banks.
The Ahr sweeping away the destruction he bought in Insul, Germany.
A campsite in Roermond, the Netherlands, is submerged.
Only a large truck and a front loader were able to drive through some streets in Valkenburg, the Netherlands.
A lookout at Lake Lucerne, Switzerland, has become part of the lake itself.