Belgian authorities have called in the army to assist with emergency evacuations after severe flooding killed two people in the south-western Hainot province.
A 72-year-old woman drowned overnight near Beaumont after her husband lost control of their vehicle, firefighters said.
A second victim, who was on his way home, was found just metres away.
“This is a catastrophe for our region,” the mayor of Beaumont, Charles Dupuis, said.
A woman was missing after being carried away by the water, according to authorities in the town of Lessines.
Officials described the flooding as the worst in 50 years. The national weather service reported that in two days Belgium absorbed as much rainfall as it normally gets in a month.
Rivers and creeks overflowed in western and central Belgium causing basements and streets to flood in scores of towns and cities. Rail traffic was seriously interrupted this morning, but returned slowly to normal in the afternoon.
Local authorities called in the army and civil protection to reinforce firefighters who had been working overnight. Firefighters were handing out bags of sand in the affected towns and villages, hoping to keep the water at bay.
The situation appeared particularly serious in the Brabant region, just outside Brussels, and Hainaut province, where Beaumont and Lessines are located.
In Tubize, a town in the French-speaking part of Brabant, soldiers had to evacuate a hospital. Marie-Jose Laby, the province’s governor, said more rain was forecast, and the situation could deteriorate.
“The priority is to bring the people to safety,” she said.
Prime minister Yves Leterme said there was no need to declare a national emergency but said his government was following the situation closely.