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Flooding latest: 23 dead, several missing and thousands without electricity

13:54 16/07/2021

The death toll from Thursday's flooding across large parts of southern Belgium has reached at least 23, authorities have confirmed.

Fifteen people died in Verviers, the town's mayor announced on Friday. Three bodies were discovered in Trooz, Liège province. Deaths from the flooding were also reported in Eupen, Aywaille, Philippeville, Chaudfontaine and Pepinster. Several of the bodies found so far have yet to be formally identified.

At least a dozen people remain missing, including a 15-year-old girl who was swept away by the flood water in Rendeux, Luxembourg province. Three people went missing when their lifeboat capsized during a rescue operation in Pepinster. King Philippe and Queen Mathilde were due to visit Pepinster on Friday afternoon.

More than 40,000 people are without electricity, as about 300 sub-stations are flooded. Several municipalities in Liège and Namur provinces are without drinking water.

In Walloon Brabant, the Senne river overflowed in Tubize and Ittre, and the Dyle burst its banks in Wavre, where two bridges are at risk of collapse. Walibi and Aqualibi theme parks remain closed until further notice.

In Verviers, authorities imposed a curfew on Thursday evening after scenes of looting in flood-damaged shops.

Transport remains severely disrupted, with many roads still blocked. Rail infrastructure operator Infrabel said it would take several weeks for the damage on some lines to be repaired before train services can resume. Some De Lijn bus routes in Flemish Brabant and Limburg provinces have also been halted.

Walloon minister-president Elio Di Rupo said lessons would have to be learnt after the rescue and clean-up operation were completed.

Di Rupo said there were still "hundreds of people" stranded in their homes, awaiting rescue. The poor weather conditions have made it impossible to use helicopters, while lifeboats have struggled with the strong currents.

He added that the Walloon government was in contact with the insurers' federation Assuralia to guarantee that victims of the flood damage receive prompt help.

Written by The Bulletin