Five days after large parts of Belgium were hit by major floods caused by the heavy rainfall, Home Affairs Minister Annelies Verlinden gave a state of play during a press conference on Monday morning.
“The water has largely receded, and the havoc is gradually becoming visible,” she said. “And that havoc is enormous.”
“This is one of the greatest natural disasters our country has ever known.”
However, experts, including climatologist Jean-Pascal van Ypersele (UCL), are warning that Belgium will see more of these extreme weather phenomena in the future.
According to Verlinden, “we have to be prepared, but there is no script for a water bomb like the one we just experienced.”
With access to the hardest-hit areas being restored, police services will concentrate on the structured search for victims in the rubble, according to Commissioner General of the Federal Police, Marc De Mesmaeker.
As it stands, the official death toll in Belgium is 31, but that number is still expected to go up in the coming days, he said.
Of the bodies which have been found, 19 of them have now been identified. “54 people are still hospitalised and are 127 presumed missing or unreachable.”
However, the worst moments often bring out the best in people, according to him.
“The many spontaneous expressions of help and support undoubtedly give us the courage to continue and persevere. Unity makes strength.”
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