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As the floodwaters recede in Europe, victims face a mammoth clean-up.

Residents in the worst-affected areas of Germany and Belgium have begun the massive process of cleaning their neighborhoods as the floodwaters recede.

As rescue personnel continues their search for casualties, the extent of the damage is becoming obvious.

At least 170 people have died, and the death toll could grow further as many people are still missing.

There are also concerns that a dam that has been weakened by the rains may burst.

Inspectors report major sections of the Steinbachtal dam, located south of Bonn, Germany, have crumbled, making it dangerously unsafe.

Residents in downstream communities have been evacuated, and more individuals may be ordered to depart.

On Friday night, another dam in the Heinsberg area of Düsseldorf ruptured, forcing hundreds of people to flee.

Meanwhile, during a visit to the impacted areas, a top German politician was chastised for laughing.

While President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was expressing sympathy to the victims, Armin Laschet, the conservative contender to succeed outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel, was captured on tape apparently giggling with colleagues.

Mr. Laschet eventually apologized on Twitter (in German), but commentators and politicians were eager to attack him.

On its website, Bild daily remarked, “Laschet chuckles while the country cries.”

Mrs. Merkel is scheduled to visit the community of Schuld, which has been characterized as a “war zone” by one local, on Sunday.

Climate change has been blamed by European officials for the floods that have hit Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.

Global warming, according to experts, makes severe rains more likely.

Since the beginning of the industrial age, the planet has warmed by around 1.2 degrees Celsius. At least 143 people, including four firefighters, have perished as a result of the floods in Germany.

The most severely hit states are North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Saarland.

Hundreds of thousands of individuals were reported missing after the floods, although many have subsequently been found.

Residents in Bad Neuenahr, a spa town in Rhineland-Ahrweiler Palatinate’s area, we’re determined to start cleaning up, scraping mud from the streets, and clearing garbage mounds.

However, the challenge is enormous, with many companies and livelihoods in the town destroyed, electricity and gas still down, and communication connections down.

“Everything is entirely wrecked; the scenery is unrecognizable,” said Michael Lang, the owner of a wine business.

AFP news agency said that Baker Gregor Degen had organized a group of neighbors to begin cleaning mud and debris.

He had planned to return to work the day following the floods but reported the water levels were too high.

Following torrential rains in Erftstadt-Blessem, Germany, on July 17, 2021, members of the Bundeswehr soldiers wade through floodwater surrounded by half-submerged cars. Nearly 100 people are thought to have died in Ahrweiler.

Meanwhile, emergency crews in North Rhine-Westphalia have begun retrieving abandoned automobiles from the flooded B265 route.

Elmar Mettke, a spokesperson for the fire department, said the automobiles were examined for bodies while still submerged.