PM declares national day of mourning for 20 July after floods

Speaking at a press conference, the federal PM Alexander De Croo said that next Tuesday will become a day of national mourning after the recent floods which left at least 20 people dead and 20 others missing. 

A minute's silence will be held next Tuesday. The Belgian National Day celebrations on Wednesday 21 July will be downsized for the same reason - many troops will not be present for the military parade anyway since they are helping out in the stricken area. 

Speaking at the press conference were the federal PM, Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden, the Flemish Premier Jan Jambon and his Walloon counterpart Elio Di Rupo. 

Ms Verlinden pointed out that the rainfall seen in some areas was so rare that it normally only occurs every 200 years. In other places, the recent rainfall should be seen as an event which only occurs every 20 or 30 years. Climate experts however have repeatedly said that this may change in the future due to climate change and become more frequent - both long droughts and intensive rains. 

The Flemish PM Jan Jambon said that the rainfall will be recognised as a natural disaster which will make it easier for victims to get financial compensation. He added that he ordered his administration to speed up the compensation process. Mr Jambon said that people's basic fire insurance will be the first one to be addressed, but the disaster fund can intervene for other, special cases (e.g. if a car has been swept away and damaged) which are not covered by the normal insurance.  

If you want to give financial support to the victims, you can do so using the account number BE70 0000 0000 2525. The Flemish and Francophone units of the Red Cross have joined forces to coordinate this financial help.  Those willing to do volunteer work are asked to inform the Red Cross. 

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