At least 92 people have been killed and dozens are missing after catastrophic flooding across Germany and Belgium, which has left several villages cut off and sparked fears that a dam could burst.
Officials have warned that communities in both countries “are still in danger” following Thursday’s catastrophe, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel expecting “many” more deaths.
The total number killed in Germany alone has already risen to at least 81, according to broadcaster ARD, and around 1,300 people are unaccounted for in Ahrweiler county in Rhineland-Palatinate state.
In Belgium, 11 deaths have been reported.
“I grieve for those who have lost their lives in this disaster,” said Ms Merkel, during a visit to Washington.
“We still don’t know the number, but it will be many.”
Entire communities lay in ruins after rivers burst their banks and swept through towns and villages causing scores of homes to collapse and widespread devastation following days of torrential rain.
The full extent of the damage in the regions affected remains unclear as many remote villages remain cut off by flood water and landslides that have made roads impassable.
So far, at least 30 people are confirmed dead in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia state, and another 28 in Rhineland-Palatinate state to the south.
Four people died in separate incidents after basements were flooded in Cologne, Kamen and Wuppertal, where authorities warned that a dam could burst.
Authorities in Rhine-Sieg county south of Cologne ordered the evacuation of several villages below the Steinbach reservoir amid fears the dam there could break.
The governor of Rhineland-Palatinate state, Malu Dreyer, told the regional parliament: “There are people dead, there are people missing, there are many who are still in danger.
“We have never seen such a disaster. It’s really devastating.”