Germany floods: Death toll rises to 165 as cleanup continues
The death toll from Germany’s worst flooding disaster in decades continues to rise as emergency services carry out rescue and cleanup operations.
Death toll of flooding in Germany continues to rise
Although floodwaters are now finally receding in Germany, the number of confirmed victims continues to rise. On Monday, police said that the number of dead now stands at 165, although many fear this number will continue to rise as the water level drops and reveals the extent of the damage. As well as the emergency services, the German military has also been deployed to help with rescue efforts, with dozens of missing people still unaccounted for.
The flooding began last Wednesday, as a deluge of rainfall pelted parts of western Germany and created great torrents of water that surged through the streets, taking out entire blocks of housing, ripping up power lines, and washing away bridges and railway lines. So far, the flooding has claimed the lives of 117 people in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, 47 in North Rhine-Westphalia, and one person in Bavaria.
Other countries including Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have also experienced heavy rainfall and flooding in recent days.
German politicians pledge support for affected regions
On Monday, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and Armin Laschet, the state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, were due to visit Euskirchen, one of the worst-affected towns. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was on a state visit to the United States when the floods hit, has returned to Germany and on Sunday was in Schuld in Rhineland-Palatinate.
Finance Minister Olaf Scholz is due to propose an immediate aid package this week. On Sunday, he told Bild am Sonntag that a “quick, generous and unbureaucratic” fund would be made available, with at least 300 million euros needed to help finance reconstruction. German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier has also proposed financial aid for individual businesses severely impacted by the flooding and the coronavirus pandemic.
Risk of flooding now receding
According to authorities, with the weather easing in hard-hit regions, there is no longer any acute danger. The German Weather Service (DWD) states that there will be no significant precipitation in the coming days, and as such the situation can be expected to improve. “The floods are draining away,” the DWD said in its weather report on Monday morning.
However, according to experts, the situation is still critical in Erftstadt-Blessem in North Rhine-Westphalia. The stability of the subsoil still needs to be checked after the floods created a huge crater, which caused at least three residential buildings and part of a historic castle to collapse.
In Berchtesgadener Land in Bavaria, where a state of emergency was previously announced after the River Ache burst its banks, the situation has now eased. Nonetheless, authorities at the national park continue to warn against travelling to the region, which is popular with tourists.