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Germany floods: Merkel horrifies ‘catastrophe’ as death toll exceeds 80 | Germany




Devastating floods in Germany have killed more than 80 people, and one district alone is missing a chancellor Angela Merkel expressed its deepest condolences to the victims of a “catastrophe” the magnitude of which will only become apparent in the coming days.


On Friday morning, German media reported that at least 81 people had died, with 50 and at least 30 dead, respectively, in the two worst-hit states, Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia.
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On Thursday evening, authorities in the Ahrweiler . district said the death toll was expected to rise and they were trying to locate about 1,300 missing people, though the high figure is due to damaged cell phone networks.

Regional Home Secretary Roger Lewentz told SWR broadcaster: “We think 40, 50 or 60 people are still missing, and if you haven’t heard from people for so long … you have to fear the worst.”

“The number of casualties is likely to continue to rise in the coming days,” he added.


More than 1,000 rescue missions were carried out on Thursday in the town of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler alone, some of which are still ongoing.

More than 1,000 aid workers helped the district, from the state of Rhineland-Palatinate and the neighboring states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg. It was too early to say the extent of the damage, Ahrweiler officials said.


Among the dead in Rhineland-Palatinate are nine residents of a residential care center for people with disabilities and two firefighters involved in rescue efforts. In North Rhine-Westphalia, the city of Euskirchen was hardest hit, with at least 15 deaths.

The death toll in Belgium has risen to at least 11, according to Belgian reports.

Continued rain is forecast for parts of the west, where water levels in the Rhine and its tributaries are rising dangerously. Authorities in the Rhine-Sieg province of North Rhine-Westphalia ordered the evacuation of several villages under the Steinbach reservoir for fear a dam could break.

Malu Dreyer, the governor of Rhineland-Palatinate state, told the regional parliament: “People are dead, people are missing, there are many who are still in danger… We have never seen such a disaster. It’s really devastating.”

A flooded street in the city of Ahrweiler-Bad Neuenahr, West Germany, Thursday.
A flooded street in the town of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, West Germany, Thursday. Photo: Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images

Speaking at the White House on a trip to Washington, Merkel called it a day “marked by fear, by despair, by suffering, and hundreds of thousands of people suddenly faced with catastrophe”.

“My empathy and my heart go out to all those who have lost loved ones in this catastrophe, or who are still concerned about the fate of people who are still missing,” she said, noting that many people in Luxembourg and the Netherlands also members.

Merkel said her government would not leave those affected “alone with their suffering”, adding that she was “doing her utmost to help them in their need”.

US President Joe Biden, who stood by her side for a press conference following bilateral talks, called the flooding a tragedy.

“I want you and the people of Germany my sincere condolences and the condolences of the American people for the devastating loss of life and destruction caused by the flooding in the past 24 hours in Germany and neighboring countries,” Biden said.

Aerial footage of the floods in Bad Neuenahr - Ahrweiler.
Aerial footage of the floods in Bad Neuenahr – Ahrweiler. Photo: NEWS5/AFP/Getty Images

Unusually heavy rainfall from a slow-moving low-pressure area has flooded four countries, causing rivers to burst their banks and flooding streets in towns and villages, while power outages for hundreds of thousands of households.

The storms have put climate change back at the heart of Germany’s election campaign, ahead of a September 26 parliamentary poll marking the end of Merkel’s 16 years in power. Germany “needs to prepare much better in the future,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said, adding that “this extreme weather is a consequence of climate change”.

In Germany, desperate residents took refuge on the roofs of their homes as rescue helicopters circled overhead. In the town of Schuld in the Eifel Mountains, 70 people have been reported missing after several houses collapsed overnight.

“It was catastrophic,” said Edgar Gillessen, 65, whose family home was damaged. “All those people who live here, I know them all. I feel so sorry for them, they’ve lost everything,” he told Reuters. “A friend had a workshop there, nothing, the baker, the butcher, it’s all gone. It’s scary. Unbelievable.”

Aerial images show flooding in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands – video
Aerial images show flooding in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands – video

The full extent of damage in the region remains unclear after many villages were cut off by floods and landslides that left roads impassable. Videos posted on social media showed cars drifting through streets and houses partially collapsing.


European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promised to help, and Pope Francis sent his condolences, with his office saying the Pope prayed for the injured and missing, as well as those who have lost their livelihoods.

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