Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with the Axios AM and PM newsletters. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to the Axios Closer newsletter for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with the Axios Sports newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Des Moines newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Rhineland-Palatinate, Kordel. Photo: Sebastian Schmitt/picture alliance via Getty Images

At least 69 people have died and 1,300 are assumed missing in Germany and Belgium after heavy rainfall caused water to overtake streets, sweeping up cars and bringing down buildings, the New York Times reports.

Driving the news: Storms across parts of western Europe caused rivers and reservoirs to burst through their banks, triggering flash floods overnight.

  • At least 30 people died in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, while 28 deaths were reported in Rhineland-Palatinate state, per AP. Belgian media reported at least 11 deaths in the country.
  • Rescuers encountered blocked roads along with phone and internet outages. Some villages were reduced to rubble as water gushing through the streets took down trees and debris. Others remain unreachable.
  • Two firefighters died in rescue operations in North-Rhine Westphalia, per AP.
  • Hundreds of soldiers are helping with rescue efforts, employing tanks to clear roads and remove fallen trees.

What they're saying: "I grieve for those who have lost their lives in this disaster," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, according to AP. "We still don’t know the number. But it will be many."

  • "There are people dead, there are people missing, there are many who are still in danger,” the governor of Rhineland-Palatinate state, Malu Dreyer, told the regional parliament, per AP. "We have never seen such a disaster. It’s really devastating."

Between the lines: Climate change is increasing extreme water events worldwide — both the excess and absence of rain, Axios' Andrew Freedman notes.

  • In many areas of Europe and the U.S., for example, the odds of extreme precipitation events and flooding have sharply escalated, with warming air and ocean temperatures providing more moisture to fuel storms.

The big picture: The equivalent of two months of rain has fallen on some areas over the last one to two days, per AP citing the French national weather service.

What to watch: More heavy rain is expected in southwestern Germany overnight Thursday and into Friday.

Rhineland-Palatinate, Kordel. Photo: Sebastian Schmitt/picture alliance via Getty Images
Rhineland-Palatinate, Schuld. Photo: Boris Roessler/picture alliance via Getty Images
Rhineland-Palatinate, Esch. Photo: Thomas Frey/picture alliance via Getty Images
A man walks through floods in Schuld near Bad Neuenahr, western Germany. Photo: Bernd Lauter/AFP/ via Getty Images
Rhineland-Palatinate, Schuld. Photo: Thomas Frey/picture alliance via Getty Images

Editor's note: This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Go deeper

Southern California beaches reopen, as oil spill cleanup continues

Oil spill cleanup workers search for contaminated sand and seaweed at Huntington Beach in California on Oct. 9. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

A Southern California coastal area closed since one of the largest oil spills in the state's recent history struck over a week ago reopened Monday, as cleanup efforts continue.

The latest: Huntington Beach's reopening Monday came sooner than many expected, after water quality tests came back with no detectable levels of oil associated toxins in the ocean water, AP reports.

Kate Marino, author of Markets
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Omicron outbreaks were bad for business in January

Data: New York Federal Reserve Bank; Chart: Axios Visuals

Emerging anecdotal evidence shows just how hard the recent rise in COVID-19 cases hit businesses in early January — but that hasn't hurt some business leaders’ longer-term views on their companies' prospects.

Why it matters: Increasingly, the economic recovery has come in fits and starts that move in tandem with new peaks in cases. Look no further than the thousands of cancelled flights and shuttered Broadway theaters in the wake of the Omicron variant's spread over the last few months.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
2 hours ago - Health

The shifting definition of fully vaccinated

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The definition of what it means to be "fully vaccinated" is evolving even as the CDC has remained careful not to officially change it.

Why it matters: CDC officials have been balancing the job of convincing Americans who've already gotten two doses of the importance of boosters with getting many Americans who still need their first doses to get their shots at all.