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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

Updated Sep 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Harris, Bush preach unity at Flight 93 memorial, 20 years on from attacks

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a 9/11 commemoration at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris joined former President George W. Bush at a ceremony on Saturday to honor the lives lost 20 years ago on United Airlines Flight 93.

Driving the news: The vice president and the 43rd president devoted much of their remarks to remembering the unity that brought Americans together after the 9/11 attacks.

Pelosi's back-to-school math problem

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) may need votes from an unlikely source — the Republican Party — if she hopes to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill by next Monday, as she's promised Democratic centrists.

Why it matters: With at least 20 progressives threatening to vote against the $1.2 trillion bipartisan bill, centrist members are banking on more than 10 Republicans to approve the bill.

By the numbers: Haitian emigration

Expand chart
Data: CBP; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

The number of Haitians crossing the U.S.-Mexico border had been rising even before their country's president was assassinated in July and the island was struck by an earthquake a month later.

Why it matters: A spike during the past few weeks — leaving thousands waiting in a makeshift camp under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas — has prompted a crackdown and deportations by the Biden administration.