BERLIN, 15 July: At least 19 people have died and dozens are missing after heavy rains triggered flash floods in parts of Germany, damaging homes and disrupting transport.
Police in the western city of Koblenz said in a Twitter post on Thursday that four people had died in Ahrweiler county, with some 50 others trapped on the roofs of their houses awaiting rescue.
Many of those reported missing were on the roofs of at least six houses that were swept away by floods in the municipality of Schuld, where the rainfall caused rivers to burst their banks, local police said.
Schuld is located in the Eifel, a volcanic region of rolling hills and small valleys southwest of Cologne. The full extent of the damage in the region was still unclear after many villages were cut off by floodwater and landslides that made roads impassable.
Video footage from Bad Neuenahr, about 60 kilometres north-west of Koblenz, showed cars and trucks strewn across streets and one sport-utility vehicle perched on a fence, a road blocked by wreckage and fallen trees as flood waters receded.
Authorities have declared an emergency in the region after days of torrential downpours caused disruption in rail, road and river transport. Large parts of western and central Germany, as well as neighbouring countries, have experienced widespread damage.
Police said two men, aged 77 and 82, died after their basements were flooded in the western cities of Kamen and Wuppertal, where authorities warned that a dam threatened to burst.
A firefighter drowned on Wednesday during rescue work in the western German town of Altena, and another man was missing in the eastern town of Joehstadt after disappearing while trying to secure his property from rising waters, authorities said.
Heavy rainstorms are expected in southwestern Germany on Thursday, with continuous rains until Friday evening, the German Weather Service warned in a morning bulletin.