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Six dead, thousands evacuated as severe flooding hits Wallonia
Six people have died, several others are missing and several thousand residents are being evacuated from their homes after severe flooding in parts of Wallonia.
In Eupen, a 22-year-old man died after he was carried away by flood water. Meanwhile a man in his 50s in Aywaille, Liège province, drowned in his flooded cellar. Four bodies were found in the Verviers region, prosecutors said, without giving further details at this stage.
Evacuations are being carried out by boat in parts of Liège, Namur and Luxembourg provinces. Among the worst-affected municipalities are Chaudfontaine, Trooz, Theux, Rochefort, Spa and parts of Namur and Liège. The army has been called in to provide reinforcement.
After heavy rainfall, several rivers in the region have flooded or are at critical levels, including the Lesse, Lhomme, Ourthe, Amblève, Vesdre and parts of the Meuse.
Cars were swept away as roads flooded. Many roads in Liège province are blocked by water and mudslides. The governor of Liège province has urged residents to avoid all non-essential travel. SNCB rail services and TEC buses have stopped running.
In Pepinster, about a dozen houses collapsed under the intensity of the flood water after the Hoegne and Vesdre rivers burst their banks. "We are working to find the survivors," said mayor Philippe Godin.
Walloon minister-president Elio Di Rupo called a crisis meeting with the governors of Namur, Liège and Luxembourg provinces and will visit some of the worst-hit areas on Thursday afternoon.
"These are historic floods, unheard of," De Rupo said. "Very heavy rain is still expected today. The situation in the provinces of Luxembourg and Liège is very complicated."
De Rupo added that the Walloon region would be providing emergency funding to the mayors of the affected municipalities to provide support to residents.
Anyone affected by the flooding should not call the emergency number 112 unless a life is in danger. A special number is operating instead: 1722.
Photo: Bruno Fahy/Belga