Torrential rains caused
of Europe's major rivers to swell and overflow last week. Many burst their
towns and villages. The floodwaters washed away houses, roads and bridges across Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The death
stands at 190, with many more people missing. Towns are now covered in
. The floods reshaped many parts of towns beyond
, which Ms Merkel described as being "
". Armin Laschet, the premier of the flood-stricken state of North-Rhine Westphalia, said the clean-up
would take "years". He questioned Germany's preparedness for floods and the
of flood defences.