At least 108 people are now known to have died in the flooding in western Europe, with 93 dead in Germany.
Houses have been flattened, roads destroyed and bridges and vehicles swept away as rivers burst their banks in Belgium and Germany.
In North Rhine-Westphalia state, one of the hardest-hit German regions, the death toll has reached 43. In Belgium the number is at least 15 and at least 5 people have been reported missing.
Experts in Germany said that the Steinbach dam, on a tributary of the Rhine south of Cologne, was “extremely unstable” and 4,500 people near by were ordered from their homes. They joined the thousands already displaced as police, soldiers, volunteer fire brigades and disaster relief services rescued stranded people and searched the waters for bodies.
14 residents of a disabled care home in Sinzig, on the Ahr, drowned overnight after floodwaters trapped them on the ground floor, and up to 70 people have been reported missing after several houses collapsed during the night in the village of Schuld in the Eifel hills. Dozens are still trapped on their roofs, waiting to be rescued.
4 bodies were recovered from submerged cellars and 18 people were confirmed dead in Ahrweiler, near Bonn. In Euskirchen, 15 people died and 2 firefighters were killed in the Sauerland region. Many of the dead were taken by surprise as the floodwaters rose overnight. Among the victims were 9 residents of a care home for people with learning disabilities in Rhineland-Palatinate.
The local government said 1,300 people were “assumed missing” in the district of Ahrweiler.
The death toll in Germany is believed to be the highest from a flood since the storm surge of the North Sea in 1962 – in which 340 people died.