Belgian prosecutor opens criminal inquiry into deadly floods

BRUSSELS (AP) — Prosecutors in Belgium have opened an investigation into the deadly floods that ravaged several towns this month and left 37 people dead in the country.

The prosecutor's office in the city of Liege said in a statement Wednesday that an investigative judge was appointed to lead the inquiry, which will examine whether there is a basis to charge anyone with involuntary manslaughter by failure of care or precaution.

Amid discontent among the thousands of residents impacted by the floods, a Belgian political party earlier this week requested the appointment of a parliamentary commission to investigate the disaster.

Residents of towns near Liege that were inundated after the Vesdre river spilled over its banks almost two weeks ago also have called for an independent investigation. Many residents suspect that human mishandling of river systems amplified the flooding.

Several specialists in hydrology have suggested that lowering the water level at the major Vesdre dam after forecasters issued weather warnings would have prevented a lot of flood damage in nearby towns.

Germany also experienced massive flooding, and the total death in the two countries exceeded 210.

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