Death toll in Europe floods rises to at least 150 as water begins to recede

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The death toll from disastrous flooding in western Europe rose above 150 on Saturday as rescue workers toiled to clear up the devastation and prevent further damage.

Police said that more than 90 people are now known to have died in western Germany’s Ahrweiler county, one of the worst-hit areas, and more casualties are feared. On Friday, authorities gave a death toll of 63 for Rhineland-Palatinate state, where Ahrweiler is located.

Another 43 people were confirmed dead in neighboring North Rhine-Westphalia state, Germany’s most populous. Belgian broadcaster RTBF reported that the death toll in Belgium rose to 27 on Saturday.

By Saturday, waters were receding across much of the affected regions, but officials feared that more bodies might be found in cars and trucks that were swept away.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier planned to travel Saturday to Erftstadt, southwest of Cologne, where a harrowing rescue effort unfolded on Friday as people were trapped when the ground gave way and their homes collapsed. Officials feared that some people didn’t manage to escape, but by Saturday morning no casualties had been confirmed.

Many areas were still without electricity and telephone service.

In addition to worst-hit Germany and Belgium, southern parts of the Netherlands also have been hit by heavy flooding. And heavy rain in Switzerland has caused several rivers and lakes to burst their banks, with authorities in the city of Lucerne closing several pedestrian bridges over the Reuss river.

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