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Record rainfall hits western Europe

Posted July. 17, 2021 07:59,   

Updated July. 17, 2021 07:59


At least 92 people have died and hundreds more are missing as the heaviest rainfall in a century hit western Europe. Authorities expect the number to grow even further.

According to the Reuters on Thursday (local time), up to 160 liters of rain per square meter fell in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, swelling rivers, leaving houses destroyed, and resulting in numerous casualties. At least 81 people have died in Germany, including 50 in Nordrhein-Westfalen and 31 in Rhineland-Palatinate. The heavy rain killed at least 11 in Liege, Belgium.

Germany’s national meteorological service, Deutscher Wetterdienst, said the country saw more than double the amount of rainfall in some areas that lasted up to 48 hours. The BBC reported that the death toll is expected to rise with hundreds missing in Germany. The Reuters said more than 1,300 people are still reported missing.

Three Koreans, who were reported missing on Wednesday, have been found to be safe. An official at the Korean Embassy in Germany said contact with the three Koreans was lost as landlines and cell phones did not work due to the power outage caused by the heavy rain, adding they fled to a safe place and no Korean casualties have been reported so far.

A low-pressure weather system known as “Bernd” that moved towards west Germany was responsible for the heavy rain. German daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that the torrential rain was attributable to rise in Earth’s temperature that left more water vapor in the atmosphere. The average temperature in Germany last month was 19 degrees Celsius, 3.6 degrees higher than the average temperature for the same month between 1961 and 1990. Water vapor will increase about 7 percent for every 1 degree Celsius rise in temperature, increasing the amount of rain.

The European Union has pledged to help the affected areas. U.S. President Joe Biden offered his condolences to visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, after the floods killed dozens of people.

Youn-Jong Kim zozo@donga.com · Min Kim kimmin@donga.com