The scene in Pepinster

Flooding: death toll rises

Abundant rainfall is continuing to cause problems in the Belgian provinces of Luxembourg, Liege, Namur and Limburg. In Voeren (Limburg) 140 homes had to be evacuated.  In Pepinster a dozen houses have collapsed. Yesterday in Eupen a young man was killed as a result of the meteorological conditions.  Four bodies have been recovered in the Verviers area and in Luxembourg Province a girl of 15 is missing.

The Belgian army has been deployed in Limburg, Liege, Luxembourg and Namur to help residents.  Trucks and boats are being used.  Helicopters are on stand-by to assist in evacuations. Soldiers are helping to evacuate stranded residents and youth organisation camp sites.

In Aywaille the body of a 50-year-old man has been recovered from a cellar.

In the Verviers area four bodies have been found. Prosecutors say all four died as a result of the atrocious weather conditions in this area.  Details as to how and where these people were killed are sketchy.  Civil protection officers have been given the task of identifying the bodies.

In Pepinster a dozen houses near the River Vesder have collapsed.  “The river has gained such power that the foundations of a dozen houses were destabilized.  The houses collapsed as a result” said the local mayor.

A rescue effort is under way in Pepinster.  Members of the civilian protection service and the emergency services are busy evacuating residents.  Some sixty people found refuge on their roofs. The strong current of the River Vesder is hampering the rescue effort, but now water levels are starting to fall.

VRT weatherman Frank Deboosere says the rain is now edging west towards central parts.

“The worst of the rain is expected in the provinces of Antwerp, Flemish and Walloon Brabant, Namur and parts of Hainault.  Up to 30 litres of rainfall per square metre is anticipated.”

There are fears the River Meuse will burst its banks in Liege.

Flooding caused by the rain led to problems on the roads in Limburg, particularly in the Zolder and Maasmechelen areas.

The situation is at its worst in south-western Limburg where the fire service received over 200 calls.  Conditions are extremely serious in Sint-Truiden and Hasselt.  In parts of Sint-Truiden flooding has reached knee level and residents are being kitted out with sandbags.

There are issues in Flemish Brabant too with flooding in Geetbets and threat of flooding in Glabbeek. “At the moment we are doing everything to avoid it getting worse” said the mayor “but we are not always succeeding”.

Rail traffic in parts of southern Belgium has been suspended.  Rail track company Infrabel can’t say how long it will take to restore services. “It’s an exceptional situation.  There is subsidence and trees on the line,” said Charlotte Verbeke.

In Jemelle (Namur) a train derailed after the rails gave way due to the heavy rainfall. Fortunately no passengers were on the service.


The scene in Voeren (Limburg)
Alken (photo: S. Vanstraelen)
Hasselt (photo: Louis Van Osta)

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