MORE than 80 people have died and hundreds more are missing after record floods hit western Germany.

This morning German media reported at least 81 people died due to the extreme weather. 

The worst-hit areas are the German states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, bordering with Belgium, which also reported 11 deaths. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged full support for those affected and expressed sympathy for the victims of the “catastrophe”. 

Armin Laschet, the premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, attributed the disaster to climate change.

"We will be faced with such events over and over, and that means we need to speed up climate protection measures ... because climate change isn't confined to one state," he said.

Experts say that climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events, but linking any single event to global warming is complicated.

The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland are also badly affected as record rainfall hit western Europe, causing rivers to burst their banks.

In the rural district of Ahrweiler, hundreds of people are unaccounted for and entire villages have been destroyed, German authorities said. 

A spokeswoman for the local government said mobile networks had been put out of action, making it impossible to contact many people.

More torrential rain is expected across the region today.

Residents in the region told AFP news agency they were stunned by the disaster.

"Nobody was expecting this - where did all this rain come from? It's crazy," Annemarie Mueller, a 65-year-old resident of Mayen, said. 

"It made such a loud noise and given how fast it came down we thought it would break the door down."