At least 54 people have died due to severe flooding in Western Europe, caused by what experts described as the heaviest rainfall in a century.
Up to 70 people are missing in Germany after flash floods swept across western and southern parts of the country, causing buildings to collapse, police said Thursday. Germany is worst hit with 49 people killed, while six people died in Belgium. Luxembourg and the Netherlands are also affected.
"In some areas we have not seen this much rainfall in 100 years," Andreas Friedrich, a German weather service spokesman, told CNN. He added that "in some areas we've seen more than double the amount of rainfall which has caused flooding and unfortunately some building structures to collapse."
The German regions of North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland were worst affected, Friedrich added.
Extreme rainfall totals were observed Wednesday into Thursday morning across much of western Germany and the Benelux region, with North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate seeing the highest rainfall totals, according to CNN Meteorologist Brandon Miller.
Widespread swaths of these states saw 24-hour rainfall totals between 100-150 mm (3.9-5.9 inches), which represent more than a month's worth of rainfall in this region.
Cologne recorded 154 mm (6 inches) of rainfall in only 24 hours ending Thursday morning, which is nearly double its monthly average for July of 87 mm (3.45 inches).
Locally heavier downpours resulted in extreme flash flooding. In Reifferscheid, an incredible 207 mm (8.1 inches) of rain fell in only nine hours, according to the European Severe Weather Database.