As water levels start to recede, the death toll rises as more bodies are uncovered after a record Central-European flood.
By Donovan Martin Jr.
Civilians living in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, and Slovakia had to be evacuated after a massive flood devastated the terrain. On July 15 and 16, 2021, torrential rains led to around 148 litres of water per square metre falling in the German provinces of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia in only two days. Typically, all of Germany has 80 litres of water per square in the whole of July. Such extreme rainfall resulted in the worst flood Europe has seen in decades, destroying the crops, homes, cities, and livelihoods of millions of European people.
Thousands of rescue operations have been carried out in affected areas since early Thursday. In some areas, helicopters were the only viable way to reach stranded people. Though tens of thousands were saved, there have been at least 125 deaths and hundreds remain missing. Yet the rain alone was not what hurt thousands of people; landslides and mudslides resulted after the ground’s oversaturation. Entire towns have been buried in mud, levelled as a byproduct of the abundance of water.
In an address to his people, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said Friday,
“What should have been beautiful summer days were suddenly transformed into dark and extremely sad days for our compatriots—we are still waiting for a definitive toll, but it could be that this flood becomes the most catastrophic our country has ever known.” Similar comments were made by other leaders of the Central-European countries.
This cataclysmic event is entirely related to climate change, the effects of which are becoming increasingly more palpable each day. Mere weeks ago, temperatures in Canada reached as high as 49.6° Celsius. Moreover, a town in the Canadian province of British Columbia burned down because it was so hot. Now, torrential rainstorms are causing ruin to areas across Europe. And according to climatologist and geoscientist Ernst Rauch, these catastrophes are far from over.
“There are clear indications that part of the growing damage cannot be explained solely by socio-economic factors but is due to climate change,” He posted in a statement on Twitter. He further encourages more sustainable and environmental measures to be implemented, saying, “In the long run, the expected increased damages are much more expensive than if we start now with [the] prevention, which in the end will dampen the increase in damages.”
We are currently suffering from a climate crisis. If more immediate efforts to stop climate change are not made, a downpour of more death and destruction is bound to arrive.