HomeAFPFlood death toll in Belgium rises to 31

Flood death toll in Belgium rises to 31

The number of Belgian residents confirmed dead in massive floods that hit several European countries this week rose to 31 on Sunday, according to official figures, as authorities said they were calling an end to rescue operations.

“There is no longer an immediate danger in the affected areas,” the country’s crisis centre said late Sunday, adding that “rescue operations are over but search operations continue in some areas”.

“Clean-up and estimating the material damage are now in focus,” it added.

Sunday’s toll marked an increase of four dead over the number reported Saturday, while the total for missing people rose to 163.

Police were sent to knock on doors to check for further potential victims in the affected areas, mostly in Belgium’s south and east.

Many remain cut off from communications after losing their phone or for want of electricity to recharge batteries, while others were taken to hospital without identity papers.

Sun and warmer temperatures brightened the picture on Saturday and water levels have been falling to reveal scenes of devastation.

In the hardest-hit town of Pepinster more than 1,000 people had to be evacuated.

More than 37,000 homes were still without power and 3,600 without gas on Sunday, authorities said, while rail operator Infrabel said there was disruption to almost half of train services nationwide.

Many stretches of line are undergoing or require major work, Infrabel spokeswoman Jessica Nibelle said, including a collapsed bridge and six kilometres (four miles) of track that must be completely re-laid.

The crisis centre urged people to “avoid travel in the affected provinces” due to dangerous or still-flooded roads.

While many people have set up donation drives to help those suffering in the floods, authorities urged people to give money to the Red Cross.

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