July 26, 2021

Politicians call for more climate ambition after dramatic floods in Germany

For the first time in nearly a week, the Rhineland woke up on Saturday July 17 with the hope of seeing some sun and blue skies during the day. But this finally milder weather does not mean that all danger is over, as recalled by the rupture of a small dam on the Roer, Friday evening, causing the emergency evacuation of 700 inhabitants in the district of Heinsberg. , near the border with the Netherlands.

Elsewhere, if the water level has started to drop, the human toll has continued to increase. As of Saturday morning, there were 133 dead in Germany. But this is only a provisional figure. “As the cellars are emptied or the water is pumped, we keep falling on the bodies of people who have lost their lives in these waves, so I cannot comment on the final report “, said Roger Lewentz, Interior Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate.

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With 90 deaths, this Land, very visited in summer by wine tourism enthusiasts, has paid the heaviest price. “Our Land has never known such a disaster”, said its Minister-President, Malu Dreyer, who spoke with Angela Merkel. The German Chancellor will visit the region in the coming days, her spokesperson said.

In the meantime, the victims will have received a visit from the President of the Republic, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Saying to himself “Devastated by such a tragedy”, the latter said on Friday that “Only an unwavering determination to fight against climate change will be able to contain such violent weather phenomena”. Saturday noon, Mr. Steinmeier was to go to Erftstadt, near Cologne, where an impressive landslide took place on Friday morning, causing the death of several people (the final toll is not yet known) and giving rise to mind-blowing photos which made the front page of several German and foreign media.

Solidarity outbursts

Alongside the human toll, it is the material toll that is just starting to be assessed. The damage is of considerable magnitude. Several tens of kilometers of railroad tracks are devastated. The electrical installations were also very badly damaged. A total of 102,000 homes were still deprived of it on Friday afternoon. In some districts, the gas network has been completely destroyed. As in Ahrweiler, southwest of Bonn, where residents could wait several months, perhaps even the onset of winter, to gain access to gas again.

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