August 5, 2021

the situation is deteriorating in southern Germany

Heavy localized rains hit Germany again, on the night of Saturday 17 to Sunday 18 July, this time further south, on the border with Austria. Floods were reported in this area, the “disaster plan” decreed in the German district of Berchtesgaden. In Austria, the town of Hallein is flooded and firefighters are on alert in the regions of Salzburg and Tyrol.

The trend, on the other hand, is declining in the two most affected German Länder (Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, in the west of the country). The toll from the devastating floods worsened on Sunday morning, reaching 156 dead in Germany and 183 dead in Europe. This toll is still provisional, while rescuers continue to search for dozens of missing people in the country as well as in Belgium, which has at least 27 dead.

Read also In pictures: dramatic floods in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits survivors of what she called the floods on Sunday ” of the century “. She will be traveling to Schuld, a village in Rhineland-Palatinate described as « martyr » : almost everything was destroyed there by the midweek floods. Mme Merkel should promise state aid for reconstruction. A government aid plan of probably several billion euros is in preparation.

More than 22,000 rescuers at work

Tens of thousands of Germans are affected by the destruction of their homes, cuts in electricity, gas or telephone lines … Some roads are gutted, bridges are broken and cities are buried under the rubble. “It’s a real disaster, I am upset”Angela Merkel said this week while on a visit to the United States when torrential rains in the middle of the week suddenly caused flooding described by witnesses as ” tsunami “, of « tsunamis ».

Reportage : “We lost everything. But at least we have life left ”: Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, ravaged by floods
The clearing work began in the municipality of Schuld, in western Germany, on Saturday July 17, 2021.

In all the affected localities, firefighters, civil protection, municipal officials, soldiers, have begun the colossal work of clearing and cleaning up the piles of muddy debris which often obstruct the streets. More than 22,000 rescuers are at work in Germany. Unusual scene, military tanks were even deployed in some places to aid in the efforts.

Home cellars and car wrecks are inspected one by one to find any bodies, both in Germany and in Belgium. In this country, as the water recedes, “We will probably still find catastrophic situations”, ruled the mayor of Liège, Christine Defraigne.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also In Liège, after the floods, a devastated but united neighborhood

Indignation after the laughter of Armin Laschet

The leader of the German Conservative Party, Armin Laschet, on Saturday, July 17, during a trip to Erftstadt, in North Rhine-Westphalia.

The floods in Germany took a political turn just over two months before the general elections, after which Angela Merkel will step down. Each candidate competes for proposals to strengthen the fight against global warming, the cause for many experts of flooding. Leader of the conservative CDU party and favorite in the polls, Armin Laschet demanded, like the entire political class, to“Pick up the pace” in the fight against climate change.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also In Germany, the floods place the climate issue at the center of the campaign for the succession of Angela Merkel

But Armin Laschet made a misstep on Saturday detrimental to his image: he was filmed laughing during a tribute from the Head of State to the victims of the floods. “Laschet laughs while the country suffers”, writes picture, Germany’s most widely read newspaper. The images have gone viral, with national outrage forcing him to apologize for his behavior “Inappropriate”. The controversy has grown even more important as Mr. Laschet is also the leader of North Rhine-Westphalia, one of the two regions most affected by the floods.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Floods in Europe: “There is an absolute urgency to immediately reduce our greenhouse gas emissions”

The World with AFP