Further risk of flooding: Dyke breach in Limburg and across Dutch border

Further risk of flooding: Dyke breach in Limburg and across Dutch border
The situation in Maaseik Credit: Twitter screengrab

The situation after the heavy rainfall in the Limburg province has once again become critical as both a dyke on the Demer and one across the Dutch border are being confronted with breaches.

Herk-de-Stad in the province Limburg is experiencing a ten-metre breach in the dyke which is located just half a kilometre from the town's centre.

The technical department, the fire brigade and local contractors are currently doing everything they can to repair the hole, including placing large blocks in the water, together with large bags of debris, to form a dam, according to reports from De Standaard.

Earlier this afternoon, the levels of the Meuse in Limburg remained stable, however, the levels of other waterways in the region were rising again. However, a lot is hinging on the Monsin dam, just above the particularly hard-hit city of Liège.

If that dam fails, a mass of extra water will come from Liège into Limburg, turning the already critical situation into “a disaster” for parts of Limburg, according to provincial governor Jos Lantmeeters.

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Additionally, just across the Dutch border, a dyke along the Juliana Canal near the district of Voulwames broke on Friday afternoon.

The water has made a hole of one by one metre for the time being, but it may quickly become larger, according to the South Limburg Safety Region.

The Juliana Canal flows west of the Meuse, starting at Maastricht. This breach concerns a section of the dyke near the area of Voulwames. Just on the other side of the Meuse lies the Belgian municipality of Rekem.

"Inhabitants of Bunde, Voulwames, Brommelen and Geulle (below) must leave the area," the Safety Region announced. "Leave your house immediately and bring yourself to safety. The area will be flooded in a very short time."

Additionally, the VieCuri hospital in the area of Venlo in the Netherlands, located near the Meuse, is being fully evacuated as a precaution, reports the Safety Region Limburg-Noord. It will remain closed until Monday at least.

On Friday afternoon, 140 patients will be transferred to other hospitals, and emergency patients will be diverted to other hospitals from 6:00 PM.

In the meantime, the official death toll has risen to 18 in Belgium, Interior Minister Verlinden told VRT, however, Walloon media are reporting that at least 23 people have already died. The situation on the ground is still very chaotic, which could explain the different counts.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo will hold a press conference about the severe weather at 4:00 PM, together with Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden, and Flemish and Walloon Ministers-Presidents Jan Jambon and Elio Di Rupo, his cabinet confirmed to The Brussels Times.

Update: This article was updated to include that there was a breach in the dyke in Herk-de-Stad in Belgium, in addition to the one just across the Dutch border.

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