Belgium asks residents to quit Liege's flood-threatened riverfront
Authorities in the Belgian city of Liege on Thursday urged residents to evacuate neighbourhoods on the Meuse river as several days of heavy rains threatened historic flooding.
The city authorities "ask the inhabitants of Liege who still have the possibility to evacuate to do so," a statement said, adding that waters could rise another 1.5 metres (five feet) in the coming hours from their current levels.
"If evacuation is no longer possible, citizens are advised to go upstairs and not to take any risks," the statement added.
"The crisis situation is exceptional and solidarity must prevail," they said.
The Meuse, or Maas in Dutch, is one of northwestern Europe's major waterways with streams and tributaries flowing down from much of southern Belgium, including the hilly Ardennes region.
These rivers, in particular the Ourthe and the Vesdre, have seen their flow increase enormously with the torrential rains of recent days.
Liege, with a population of around 200,000, is the fourth most populous city in Belgium and is just 40 kilometres (24 miles) from Germany, where the floods have killed at least 42 people.
"The flooding is going to be very dangerous in Liege itself," the president of the Walloon region. Elio Di Rupo, told the regional parliament on Thursday.
The towns bordering these rivers in the regions of Liege and Verviers have been under water since Wednesday, notably Theux, Pepinster and the spa town of Spa.
According to the Belgian media, at least six people died in the country as a result of the floods, including four in the eastern district of Verviers alone. Thousands of people may have to be relocated.