Thousands of Dutch urged to leave their homes as rivers flood

A flooded street is seen following heavy rainfalls in Valkenburg, Netherlands, July 15, 2021. REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Thousands of people in the south of the Netherlands on Thursday were urged to leave their houses quickly to escape floods as rivers were on the brink of bursting their banks.

Several towns and villages along the Meuse river in the province of Limburg strongly advised people to seek refuge until at least Friday afternoon, as there was a large chance that their home would be flooded in the coming hours.

Water levels on the Meuse and the Rur reached record levels on Thursday, surpassing the levels that led to large floods in 1993 and 1995, local authorities said.

In Valkenburg, in the far south of Limburg, close to the Belgian and German border, floods had already engulfed the town center, forcing the evacuation of several nursing homes and destroying at least one bridge.

Drone footage showed brown water coursing over car parks and parkland. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima visited Valkenburg on Thursday evening to show their support.

Scores of houses have been flooded in the province, where hundreds of soldiers have been sent to help fight the rising waters.

But with no casualties reported, the situation so far is much less severe than in neighboring Germany where dozens of people have died and others were missing on Thursday as rivers burst their banks and swept away homes.

(Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Alison Williams)

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