More than 80 people have died and dozens are missing after the country was hit by record rainfall that brought devastating floods.

Most of the missing hailed from German states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia where streams and streets have turned into raging torrents that swept away cars and destroyed buildings.

Dozens of people had to be rescued from the roofs of their homes with inflatable boats and helicopters.

Hundreds of soldiers were deployed to assist in the rescue efforts, according to local media reports.

“There are people dead, there are people missing, there are many who are still in danger,” the governor of Rhineland-Palatinate state, Malu Dreyer, told the regional parliament. “We have never seen such a disaster. It’s really devastating.”

More heavy rain is forecast across the region on Friday, while local officials have blamed climate change.

“Climate change has arrived in Germany,” the environment minister was quoted as saying by the UK Guardian on Friday.

Eleven people also died in neighbouring Belgium while homes were evacuated in the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland, according to Al Jazeera.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is on a visit to Washington, called the flooding a “catastrophe” and said she was “grieving those who have lost their lives”.

She said the number of dead was likely to rise further. “We still don’t know the number. But it will be many.”

“My thoughts are with you, and you can trust that all forces of our government – federal, regional and community – collectively will do everything under the most difficult conditions to save lives, alleviate dangers and to relieve distress.”

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