An investigation into fatal floods has been launched in Belgium’s Wallonia region, the worst hit by the disaster earlier this month. Prosecutors are looking into “involuntary homicide by lack of foresight or precaution.”
An investigative judge has been appointed to identify possible officials who allegedly may be responsible for manslaughter during this month’s deadly floods, a public prosecutor’s office in the city of Liege announced on Wednesday. A prosecutor has already taken note of various public positions relating to the chain of events preceding the floods, adding that those in charge might be responsible for the “lack of foresight or precaution,” according to local media.
The inquiry relates to the severe floods that hit the region in the south of Belgium on July 14. The province of Liege suffered the worst, and 41 deaths have been confirmed in Wallonia in total, with at least two more persons still missing, local media reported this week, citing regional government. At least 202 of 262 municipalities in Wallonia can claim support from the disaster fund, region’s prime minister Elio Di Rupo announced at a press conference earlier this week, saying that “this shows the scale of the disaster.”
Locals have also called for an independent investigation. Residents and businesses in the town of Chaudfontaine in the Liege province have joined forces in a “People against flows” collective, planning to file a complaint against the state, according to local media. They suspect that the mishandling of dams in the region could have possibly led to the disaster, while also blaming officials’ negligence in terms of evacuation orders. At least some damage could have possibly been prevented by lowering water levels at a major dam following bad weather forecasts, specialists have suggested.
The flooding in Belgium has damaged infrastructure, leaving thousands without power and drinking water. In neighboring Germany, dozens were killed in the massive flooding, and the disaster has also hit Switzerland and Austria. Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has said her country will continue to “oppose” the destructive forces of nature, while calling for a tougher climate protection policies.
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