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Two dead as rain batters Belgium

by Staff Writers
Brussels (AFP) Nov 14, 2010
Heavy rains battered Belgium at the weekend, causing flooding and mudslides that left at least two people dead as scores of others had to be evacuated, sometimes by boat, reports said Sunday.

A 72-year-old woman died overnight Saturday when she was unable to leave a car that became trapped after a river broke its banks in the Solre-Saint-Gery village close to the French border, the Belga news agency reported.

Another woman was swept away Sunday afternoon as she tried to cross a flooded bridge in Lessines, in the same area.

Another person was reported missing, said Belgian authorities who had previously announced three deaths.

While the rain appeared to have eased Sunday after downpours that began late Friday, water levels continued to rise with floods and mud blocking several routes and causing people to be evacuated from their homes.

An entire hospital was evacuated in the central city of Tubize.

Central and northern areas activated their provincial disaster plans but Prime Minister Yves Leterme said it was not immediately necessary to deploy national disaster measures, with the situation under control.

Around the capital Brussels, canals had burst their banks and 230 houses were evacuated at Leeuw-Saint-Pierre while pharmaceutical group UCB had to halt work at its flooded factory.

Train traffic was temporarily disrupted, including the international Thalys and Eurostar lines, and the army was mobilised in some areas, reports said.

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