The heavy rain and flooding that began on Wednesday in Europe has continued, with 143 lives lost in Germany by Saturday, and at least 27 in Belgium. Hundreds of people are still missing, and the grim expectation is that many of them have not survived.
Images from throughout Europe show sinkholes that swallowed up houses and buildings. Streets lined with once tidy houses and shops have been disemboweled, their sewer and utility lines now exposed. Cars were carried away by torrents of water and deposited upside down or upended against trees. Homes have been emptied out, their contents mixed into oozing mud pits.
The raging rivers have also swept away cellphone 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 for moving away from fossil fuels to mitigate climate change and become carbon neutral by 2050. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s president, was among the many who linked the devastation to the need to deal with climate change.
“Only when we take action against climate change can we keep the events that we are now experiencing within limits,” he said.
Photos from the devastated areas show how far beyond those limits the flooding has reached.