Merkel: Germany Floods “Terrible”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday said the recent flooding in Europe was “terrible” and promised quick financial assistance for one of Germany’s hardest-hit regions.

“No German can describe the devastation that occurred,” Merkel said.

The death toll across Europe stood at 184, including 157 in Germany.

As search and rescue teams continued their search for missing victims, a district in Bavaria, in southern Germany, was hit by flash floods that killed at least one person. Streets were flooded like rivers, vehicles were swept away by torrential currents, while an area near the border with Austria is now buried in mud.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a press conference in a flood-hit area near Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler Sunday (18/7).

“We were not prepared for this,” said Berchtesgadenar Land District administrator Bernhard Kern. He said the situation had deteriorated “drastically” Saturday night (17/7) and left little time for search and rescue teams to take action.

In the Ahrweiler district, south of Cologne, which was worst hit by the floods, about 110 people died. Police said the toll was expected to rise as the flooding receded.

The floods started last Wednesday (14/7) and generally hit the states of Rhineland-Palatinate, North Rhine-Westphalia and parts of Belgium, where the death toll reached 27. Entire settlements also experienced power outages, while communication lines were cut.

Merkel said countries (in must be faster and better at dealing with the impacts of climate change.

A few days ago Europe outlined steps towards “zero” emissions by the middle of the century.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told the weekly newspaper Bild am Sonntag the German government said it was offering immediate assistance worth $354 million and billions of euros to repair collapsed houses, roads and bridges.

“There is enormous damage and it is clear: those who have lost their businesses and homes cannot bear it alone,” he said.

Belgium plans a day of national mourning for Tuesday (20/7).

The water level dropped on Sunday (18/7) and cleanup operations are ongoing. Military forces have been sent to the eastern city of Pepinster, where dozens of buildings collapsed, to search for more victims.

Belgian authorities say the supply of clean water remains a major concern. [em/jm]