The heavy rain and flooding that began on Wednesday in Europe have continued, with at least 183 lives lost in Germany and Belgium. Hundreds of people are still missing, and the grim expectation is that many of them have not survived.
Images from throughout Europe show sinkholes that swallowed up houses and buildings. Streets lined with once-tidy houses and shops have been disemboweled, their sewer and utility lines now exposed. Cars were carried away by torrents of water and deposited upside down or upended against trees. Homes have been emptied, their contents mixed into oozing mud pits.
The raging rivers have also swept away cellphone towers and fiber optic cables, further hampering rescue efforts.
Even some of the dikes that have long protected the Netherlands have been overcome by water levels not seen since before World War I.
The flooding came the same week that Europe unveiled its ambitious plan for moving away from fossil fuels to mitigate climate change and become carbon neutral by 2050. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s president, was among the many who linked the devastation to the need to deal with climate change.
“Only when we take action against climate change can we keep the events that we are now experiencing within limits,” he said.
Photos from the devastated areas show how far beyond those limits the flooding has reached.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany visited the village of Schuld, in the country’s west.
A woman in front of her destroyed rented home in Schuld.
Volunteers helping clean a house that was flooded by the Ahr river in Heimersheim, south of Bonn.
A stretch of highway near Cologne, Germany, collapsed during the flooding.
Culling through damaged furniture outside shops and restaurants in the German spa town of Bad Neuenahr.
In Austria, high water tore away part of a bridge near Kitzbühel.
The Germany Army and other organizations were pitching in to clear debris in heavily damaged Schuld.
A community effort to get Bad Münstereifel, Germany, back in working order.
A home for disabled adults in Sinzig, Germany, where 12 people were killed in the flooding. The floodwaters’ high mark can be seen on the wall of the building.
In Bad Münstereifel’s town center, a man lamented the damage at his restaurant.
Salvage work after the floodwaters receded in Bad Münstereifel.
Removing mud from a shop on the main street of Bad Münstereifel.
A waterlogged road in Erftstadt, Germany.
Clearing the rubble from a church in Valkenburg aan de Geul, in the Netherlands.
Workers placed heavy sandbags at the water’s edge in the evacuated Dutch town of Arcen.
The high water of the Maas river near Arcen.
The disaster reached parts of Belgium, including the town of Rochefort.
Assessing the damage in Pepinster, Belgium.
This image released by the district government of Cologne shows the flooded town of Erftstadt, Germany, after heavy rains.
A once-bustling shopping street in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Germany, has become a dump for flood-damaged merchandise.
The destruction in parts of the Blessem district of Erftstadt, Germany, is complete.
The Aare River turned a restaurant patio in Bern, Switzerland, into a pond.
An impassable bridge over the Ahr in Schuld, Germany.
One wheel is the only clear hint that a vehicle was entombed under mud and debris in Schuld.
A tree caught another car when it was swept along by floodwaters in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler.
Its ballast undermined by water, the rails of tracks in Jemelle, Belgium, took on the appearance of a roller coaster.
A church and cemetery after flooding in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler.
Schuld, one of the most devastated towns in Germany, lay in ruins on Friday.
The surviving buildings of Schuld are now surrounded by debris from the structures the Ahr swept away.
With water levels at heights not seen since 1911, parts of the Netherlands have flooded, including Wessem.
Floodwaters stranded a train just short of a station in Kordel, Germany.
People turned to inflatable rafts in Liège, Belgium, after the Meuse River broke its banks.
The Ahr sweeping past the destruction it bought to Insul, Germany.
A campground in Roermond, Netherlands, lies submerged.
Only a large truck and a front-end loader were able to travel on some of the streets in Valkenburg, Netherlands.
A lookout at Lake Lucerne, Switzerland, became part of the lake itself.