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Belgium welcomes foreign aid as the federal government takes charge

Flooding triggered by the unprecedented rainfall of recent hours has left homes and roads under water in four Belgian provinces.  Luxembourg, Liege, Namur and Limburg are all hit.  Given the extent of the devastation and the threat to life and limb Belgium’s federal authorities have decided to co-ordinate the relief effort. 

At least 6 people are known to have died in Belgium.  The situation is dire in Liege where the River Meuse has burst its back.  Residents living near the river bank are being evacuated.  Anybody unable to leave the city has been urged to seek out higher ground or upper floors of their residences. Shops have been forced to close.

In Pepinster (Liege Province) a body was found under a bridge.  Several other local residents are missing.

During a rescue operation a fire service boat capsized.  5 fire-fighters are in safety but three people being evacuated are missing.

A major operation is underway to rescue residents stuck on their roofs as a result of the floods. Emergency services face many challenges and progress is slow.  Residents are being evacuated by boat or are being brought to safety from their roofs using bulldozers.

Dozens of people are still clinging onto roofs.  Several houses have collapsed.  Fire-fighters from as far afield as Ghent are helping out.  Use of a helicopter had to be abandoned due to the weather.

King Filip is visiting Chaudfontaine, another Walloon city battling the floods, today.

In Walloon Brabant the Walibi fun park has had to close.  Even at Aqualibi no more visitors are being admitted.

In Flemish Brabant concerts at the Werchter Parklife have been cancelled. The organisation says it has continued to rain all day and the site is unable to process all the rainwater.

There’s better news from Voeren in Limburg Province where evacuated residents are being allowed to return home.

Meanwhile Belgium’s civilian protection service is deploying all possible men and equipment – both volunteers and the 284-payroll staff. Sandbags are being handed out and all efforts are being made to pump away floodwaters.

The flooding is also affecting mobile telecommunications, especially in Liege Province where Telenet equipment is out of action at 16 different locations.  Proximus too is facing issues. The company describes the situation as critical in Liege, Verviers, Eupen and Rochefort.

Interior minister Verlinden (Flemish Christian democrat) says foreign aid is reaching the country: “The EU has activated its support mechanism allowing other countries to provide aid.  Emergency services from Antwerp and East and West Flanders have also volunteered aid. We have deployed as many helicopters, boats and drones as we could.”

River Meuse
Tienen in Flemish Brabant

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