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Death toll in devastating European floods rises to 150, hundreds still missing

The death toll from disastrous flooding in western Europe rose above 150 on Saturday as rescue workers toiled to clear up the devastation and prevent further damage.

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Death toll in devastating European floods rises to 150, hundreds still missing
Death toll in devastating European floods rises to 150, hundreds still missing

Police said that more than 90 people are now known to have died in western Germany's Ahrweiler county, one of the worst-hit areas, and more casualties are feared. On Friday, authorities gave a death toll of 63 for the whole of Rhineland-Palatinate state, where Ahrweiler is located. Hundreds of people are still missing.

Western Germany has suffered the most brutal impact of the deluge that also pummelled Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, leaving streets and homes submerged in muddy water and isolating entire communities.

In Germany’s worst-hit regions of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, residents who fled the deluge were gradually returning to their homes and scenes of desolation.

“Within minutes, a wave was in the house,” said baker Cornelia Schloesser of the torrents that arrived overnight Wednesday in the town of Schuld, carrying her century-old family business with it.

“It’s all been a nightmare for 48 hours, we’re going round in circles here but we can’t do anything,” she said, surveying the heaps of twisted metal, broken glass and wood that have piled up at her former storefront.

Immense task  

In the affected areas, firefighters, local officials and soldiers, some driving tanks, have begun the colossal work of clearing the piles of debris clogging the streets.

“The task is immense,” admitted the mayor of Solingen, a city in the south of the Ruhr area.

The real scale of the disaster is only now becoming clear, with damaged buildings being assessed, some of which will have to be demolished, and efforts under way to restore gas, electricity and telephone services.

The disruption to communication networks has complicated efforts to assess the number still missing.

“We have to assume we will find further victims,” said Carolin Weitzel, mayor of Erftstadt in North Rhine-Westphalia, which experienced a terrifying landslide triggered by the floods.

Roger Lewentz, interior minister for Rhineland-Palatinate, told local media up to 60 people were believed to be missing.

The government has said it is working to set up a special aid fund, with the cost of damage expected to reach several billion euros.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who returned Friday from a trip to Washington overshadowed by the disaster, vowed to provide “short- and long-term support from the government” to stricken municipalities.

She has not yet travelled to the scene from the capital Berlin, but her spokesman said Friday she was in close contact with regional leaders about “a visit soon to the scene of the catastrophe”.

Belgian toll expected to rise

Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander de Croo on Saturday headed for the scene of what he has branded “unprecedented” flood damage in the country's east, as officials warned the death toll would increase.

De Croo was to be joined by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen in the river valleys of eastern Belgium near the border with her native Germany, also badly hit.

The last official death toll on Friday night was 20, with up to 20 people still missing, and police in Angleur near Liege said they had found at least one more body overnight.

A crisis centre spokesman said a new official figure would be given later in the day, but confirmed that it was rising.

The floods descended on densely inhabited valleys in the Meuse region on Thursday after days of intense rain.

By Saturday, the skies were clearing and the downpour had abated, but the retreating waters left scenes of devastation across 120 local government areas.

Police were going door to door, checking on residents, and De Croo has declared Tuesday – the eve of Belgium’s national day – a day of official mourning.   

Focus on climate change

The devastating floods have put climate change back at the centre of Germany’s election campaign ahead of a September 26 poll marking the end of Merkel’s 16 years in power.

Germany “must prepare much better” in future, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said, adding that “this extreme weather is a consequence of climate change”.

Armin Laschet from Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, the frontrunner to succeed her after the election, spoke of “a disaster of historic proportions” for his state of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate.

Greens candidate Annalena Baerbock broke off her summer holiday to head to the afflicted area while the Social Democrats’ flag bearer, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, promised “unbureaucratic aid”.

News magazine Der Spiegel said the link between global warming and extreme weather events like the massive rainfall in recent days that caused the floods would train a spotlight on the candidates’ response to climate change.

“There will be affirmations in the coming days that it’s not an issue for the campaign but of course it is,” it said, noting the expected rising frequency of natural disasters due to the climate emergency.

“People want to know how politicians will lead them through something like this.”

Luxembourg and the Netherlands were also hammered by heavy rains, inundating many areas and forcing thousands to be evacuated in the city of Maastricht.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel called the situation in many parts of his country “dramatic” and said the financial damage was “huge”.

He pledged an initial package of €50 million ($59 million) in immediate aid to citizens who suffered losses in the floods.

SOURCE: AFP, agencies 

Faisal Ali Ghumman is a senior editor at GNN, known for writing top quality content which garner very high readerships and has been covering every field of journalism, including politics, media, sports and scholarly articles. Faisal Ali Ghumman is nothing less than a Veteran Editor and has been writing for GNN for the past 3 months.

Pakistan

With 73 new fatalities, Pakistan's COVID-19 death count nears 27,000

Islamabad: Pakistan is witnessing daily surge in COVID-19 cases with authorities linking the upswing to the deadly fourth wave. Today country’s positivity rate is on 4.78%.

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With 73 new fatalities, Pakistan's COVID-19 death count nears 27,000

As per National Command and Control Center (NCOC), around 2,714 cases of coronavirus were reported while 73 people succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 26,938.

Pakistan conducted a total of 56,733 tests in the last 24 hours.

As per the NCOC, total confirmed cases are 1,212,809 whereas 5,122 are under critical care.

Punjab           

The number of patients swelled to 416,901 in the province with 12,291 causalities.

Sindh

The number of infections has surged to 446,840 in the province, while the death toll has reached 7,192.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

The confirmed cases have surged to 169,429 in the province with 5,310 casualties.

Balochistan

There are 32,658 confirmed cases while 344 patients have died from the infection so far.

AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan

There are 33,490 coronavirus cases in the AJK while the death toll has reached 727. On the other hand, there are 10,198 cases in GB with 182 coronavirus deaths.

Islamabad

There are 103,293 cases in the capital city while 892 people have lost their lives.

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Pakistan

Pakistan's COVID-19 death toll crosses 27,000 mark

Islamabad: Pakistan is presently experiencing the fourth wave of coronavirus which is said to be deadlier and more contagious than previous three COVID waves.

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Pakistan's COVID-19 death toll crosses 27,000 mark

According to National Command and Operations Center (NCOC), around 3,012 cases of coronavirus were reported while 66 people succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 27,004.

The total number of cases has reached 1,215,821.

As many as 1,112,236 patients have recovered from the disease with 5,039 critical cases.

Punjab               

The number of patients swelled to 418,196 in the province with 12,319 causalities.

Sindh

The number of infections has surged to 447,678 in the province, while the death toll has reached 7,210.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

The confirmed cases have surged to 169,972 in the province with 5,329 casualties.

Balochistan

There are 32,671 confirmed cases while 344 patients have died from the infection so far.

AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan

There are 33,551 coronavirus cases in the AJK while the death toll has reached 727. On the other hand, there are 10,204 cases in GB with 182 coronavirus deaths.

Islamabad

There are 103,549 cases in the capital city while 893 people have lost their lives.

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Sports

Australia to cancel Afghan test if Taliban ban women's sports

Canberra: Cricket Australia Thursday issued an official notification, stating that they would cancel Test match against Afghanistan unless Taliban lift the reported ban on women’s sports.

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Australia to renounce Afghan test if Taliban ban women's sports

On its official twitter handle, Cricket Australia said that it will not host Afghanistan planned Test match in Hobart starting November 27, if news reports of Taliban views on the women’s game were true.

"If recent media reports that women's cricket will not be supported in Afghanistan are substantiated, Cricket Australia would have no alternative but not to host Afghanistan for the proposed Test match due to be played in Hobart," said Cricket Australia in its statement.

The Taliban, banned sports for women in the country saying, they don't think women will be allowed to play cricket as it’s not necessary for them to participate.

According to SBS, Ahmadullah Wasiq, deputy head of the Taliban's cultural commission said, “In cricket, women might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered”.

“Islam does not allow women to be seen like this," he stressed.

Meanwhile, players from Afghanistan women’s soccer team are among dozens of athletes who were given visas to live in Australia and have been undergoing quarantine amid coronavirus pandemic.

However, it is a move that could cost Afghanistan its status as a Test-playing nation.

Afghanistan has a national women's cricket team — but its status has been thrown into question along with every other woman in the country after the Taliban ousted the U.S.-backed government.

In August, Taliban allowed men’s cricket to continue and gave approval for the men’s national team to travel to Australia for a test match in November.

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