Belgium remained silent for a minute on Tuesday as it observed a day of mourning for the victims of the devastating floods that killed 200 people in Western Europe.
Last week’s torrential rains flooded flooding towns and villages, mostly in Belgium and Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the worst-hit areas.
At least 31 people have been killed in Belgium, with dozens still missing or unaccounted for, while Germany raised its death toll to 169 on Tuesday when aid workers crushed the rubble.
The number of missing people in Belgium has dropped in the past two days as telephone calls have been re-established and more people have been traced.
Sanitation is still being helped to recover from the devastation in the region, which saw dozens of houses collapse and cars piled up.
The water has receded since Friday, but workers and volunteers have a long way to go to help alleviate the problem and help local residents rebuild their shattered lives.
King Philippe of Belgium and Queen Matilda paid their respects at the fire station in Veracruz, one of the most affected cities.
The moment of silence came after buses, trams and metro trains stopped in Brussels and sirens sounded at fire stations across the country.
The Belgian tricolor was flown at half-domes over government buildings, as was the star of the European Union around the bloc’s capital in the capital.
Commemorative ceremonies were held on the occasion of Belgium’s national holiday. The city of Brussels has canceled its “National Ball” and the city of Numor, the capital of Wallonia, has canceled a fireworks display.
This is the first time since 2016 that Belgium has observed national mourning, when March 22 was declared three days after the Islamic State group’s claim that 32 people had been killed and more than 340 injured in Brussels.
In neighboring Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel met with flood victims struggling to cope with the devastation in the devastated medieval town of Bramantriffel.
“The loss is” terrible, “he said, referring to” people who have lost everything. ” Many homes are no longer habitable.
The city is “so badly affected that it really keeps you from speaking.”
He was joined by regional leader Armin Lasheit, who was elected from Merkel’s CDU party, to replace him as chancellor in the September election.
The number of missing persons in the country is not clear, mainly due to disruption in the communication network.
As the scale of the flood devastation became clearer, questions arose in Germany as to whether enough had been done to warn residents ahead of time.
The German government on Monday promised to improve the country’s fire warning system as a spokesman acknowledged that the tragedy had shown authorities “the need to do as much as possible”.
In the run-up to the September elections in Germany, the catastrophe has put climate change at the top of the agenda, signaling the end of Merkel’s 16 years in power.
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