general

Clean-up costing 'billions' begins after German floods

42 3

Locals band together to begin moving debris from shattered towns as Merkel describes the scene as ‘terrifying’ and the death toll passes 180

  • Communities have been pictured rallying together to begin the mammoth clean-up operation in Germany 
  • Chancellor Angela Merkel was pictured visiting Schuld in the Ahrweiler district in west Germany earlier today
  • Finance Minister warns 300m euro aid package will need to be followed by rebuilding plan costing billions 
  • Steinbachtal dam in western Germany is still in danger of collapsing as a total of 4,500 people are evacuated
  • At least 188 people have been killed in the devastating flooding across both Germany and Belgium this week 
  • Fuming officials have told so-called 'disaster tourists' coming to take pictures of the damage to stay away  
  • In the Netherlands, volunteers helping with the clean-up said their bikes have been stolen by out-of-towners 

Communities in Germany have started the clean-up operation after the devastating floods which are estimated to have caused billions of euros worth of damage and left more than 180 people dead. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was pictured arriving at a village left in ruins by this week's biblical floods - which have now claimed at least 188 lives across Germany and Belgium. 

Ms. Merkel's visit to Schuld, situated on a curve of the river Ahr in the Ahrweiler district, west Germany, comes after President Frank-Walter Steinmeier went to the area on Saturday and made clear that it will need long-term support. 

Pictures from towns and villages that were affected show huge piles of rubble, cars on their side, and subsiding flood waters as locals band together to begin the clean-up. 

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said he will propose a package of immediate aid at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, telling the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that more than 300 million euros (£257m) will be needed. 

But he added that officials must start setting up a rebuilding programme, which would likely cost billions of euros.

Ms. Merkel said following her visit: 'We are by your side,' describing the situation as 'terrifying'.

She added: 'It is shocking - I can almost say that the German language doesn't have words for the destruction that's been wreaked.

'What I could see, however, is also incredibly comforting - how people are sticking together, how they are helping each other, the solidarity that is there.' 

The death toll from flooding in Western Europe climbed to 188 on Sunday after rescue workers dug deeper into debris left by receding waters.  

Devastation: Communities in Germany have started the clean up operation after the devastating floods which are estimated to have caused billions of euros worth of damage and left more than 180 people dead. Pictured: Bad Muenstereifel, Germany

Devastation: Communities in Germany have started the clean-up operation after the devastating floods which are estimated to have caused billions of euros worth of damage and left more than 180 people dead. Pictured: Bad Muenstereifel, Germany

Police officers and volunteers clean rubble in an area affected by floods caused by heavy rainfalls in Bad Muenstereifel

Police officers and volunteers clean rubble in an area affected by floods caused by heavy rainfalls in Bad Muenstereifel

Police officers walk by a damaged car in an area affected by floods caused by heavy rainfalls in Bad Muenstereifel

Police officers walk by a damaged car in an area affected by floods caused by heavy rainfalls in Bad Muenstereifel

Police officers and volunteers clean rubble in an area affected by floods caused by heavy rainfalls in Bad Muenstereifel

Police officers and volunteers clean rubble in an area affected by floods caused by heavy rainfalls in Bad Muenstereifel

People work in an area affected by floods caused by heavy rainfalls in the center of Bad Muenstereifel, Germany

People work in an area affected by floods caused by heavy rainfalls in the center of Bad Muenstereifel, Germany

Locals come together to begin the clean up operation in western Germany after devastating floods devastated the area

Locals come together to begin the cleanup operation in western Germany after devastating floods devastated the area

The most affected region is reported to be Ahrweiler of Rhineland-Palatinate. Pictured: locals begin the clean-up

The most affected region is reported to be Ahrweiler of Rhineland-Palatinate. Pictured: locals begin the clean-up

In the Ahrweiler area of western Germany's Rhineland-Palatinate state, the number of recorded deaths has now surpassed 110 and police fear that figure may still rise. 

In neighbouring North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state, 46 people were confirmed dead, including four firefighters, while Belgium has confirmed 27 casualties.

It comes as an extraordinary video that shows the dramatic moment a German firefighter was plucked to safety from a flood-swollen street in a dangerous rescue bid that almost certainly saved his life.

The heart-stopping clip shows how rescuers didn't hesitate to form a human chain and pull the fireman out after they were alerted by his desperate cries for help. The exact location of the dramatic moment is unknown. 

Meanwhile, Pope Francis offered a prayer for the flood victims today and support to the 'efforts of all to help those who suffered great damage.'

In his first public appearance in St. Peter's Square after major surgery, he said: 'I express my closeness to the populations of Germany, Belgium, and Holland, hit by catastrophic flooding.

'May the Lord welcome the deceased and comfort the family members.' 

Chancellor Angela Merkel visiting Schuld, situated along the Ahr river, which has been left devastated by extreme flooding

Chancellor Angela Merkel visiting Schuld, situated along the Ahr river, which has been left devastated by extreme flooding

Ms Merkel and the Governer of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, Malu Dreyer (front right), talk with a resident in Schuld

Ms. Merkel and the Governor of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, Malu Dreyer (front right), talk with a resident in Schuld 

Ms Merkel (third from left) and Ms Dreyer (second from right) listen attentively to a local in Schuld as they inspect the damage

Ms. Merkel (third from left) and Ms. Dreyer (second from right) listen attentively to a local in Schuld as they inspect the damage

Chancellor Merkel and Rhineland-Palatinate leader Dreyer arrived to flood-ravaged Schuld in west Germany on Sunday

Chancellor Merkel and Rhineland-Palatinate leader Dreyer arrived at flood-ravaged Schuld in west Germany on Sunday

Firefighter in high-vis jacket is seen being taken by strong currents down a flooded street in GermanyA resident in a purple coat helps pull the fireman to safety, with the help of a group of others

Dramatic moment firefighter in Germany is seen being washed down the street during flash flooding before (right) locals risk their lives to pull him to safety 

Still of concern is a reservoir dam in western Germany which is in danger of collapsing after burst rivers and flash floods collapsed houses and ripped up roads and power lines.

Authorities in the Rhine-Sieg county south of Cologne said the Steinbachtal dam is at serious risk of breaching after around 4,500 people were evacuated from homes downstream. The nearby stretch of Autobahn 61 is also completely closed.

Other dams in the area have also overflowed, and draining is also taking place at the Rurtalsperre dam, Wupper dam, and the Bever dam near Radevormwald. The residents along the Wupper River were asked to leave the area immediately, local media report.

The Steinbachtal dam, which was built in the 1930s, has undergone renovation twice - in the 1940s after two cracks appeared in the reservoir's crown and erosion was detected in its clay core; and between August 1988 and June 1990 amid fears of further erosion.

Ms. Merkel arrived in Schuld in Rhineland Palatinate on Sunday. More than 180 people have been killed in the flooding, including about 98 in the Ahrweiler district south of Cologne, according to police. 

Hundreds of people were still missing or unreachable as several areas were inaccessible due to high water levels while communication in some places was still down. Residents and business owners struggled to pick up the pieces in battered towns.

'Everything is completely destroyed. You don't recognise the scenery,' said Michael Lang, owner of a wine shop in the town of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler in Ahrweiler, fighting back tears.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Erftstadt in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where the disaster killed at least 45 people. He added it would take weeks before the full damage, expected to require several billions of euros, could be assessed.

'We mourn with those that have lost friends, acquaintances, family members,' he said. 'Their fate is ripping our hearts apart. It's too early to give the all-clear but we are cautiously optimistic.'

Around 700 residents were evacuated late on Friday after a dam broke in the town of Wassenberg near Cologne, authorities said. But Wassenberg mayor Marcel Maurer said water levels had been stabilising since the night. 

Armin Laschet, state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia and the ruling CDU party's candidate in September's general election, said he would speak to Finance Minister Olaf Scholz in the coming days about financial support.    

Homes and businesses have been left destroyed following catastrophic flooding in Germany this week

Homes and businesses have been left destroyed following catastrophic flooding in Germany this week 

There are fears the crisis could worsen the a dam at the Steinbach reservoir (insert) on the verge of collapse due to the pressure of water behind it, as 4,500 people living in three villages below (top right) told to evacuate their homes

There are fears the crisis could worsen the dam at the Steinbach reservoir (insert) on the verge of collapse due to the pressure of water behind it, as 4,500 people living in three villages below (top right) were told to evacuate their homes

Wrecked cars and trucks are flooded on the B265 federal highway in Erftstadt, Germany

Wrecked cars and trucks are flooded on the B265 federal highway in Erftstadt, Germany

A drone photo shows an aerial view of vehicles piled up on a flooded road in Erfstadt, Germany

A drone photo shows an aerial view of vehicles piled up on a flooded road in Erfstadt, Germany

Clearing tanks of German Army, the Technical Relief Organization (THW) and rescue workers clear wrecked cars and trucks from the B265 federal highway in Erftstadt, Germany

Clearing tanks of the German Army, the Technical Relief Organization (THW), and rescue workers clear wrecked cars and trucks from the B265 federal highway in Erftstadt, Germany

Firemen pump out water from an underground parking garage following heavy floods in Euskirchen, western Germany, on July 18, 2021

Firemen pump out water from an underground parking garage following heavy floods in Euskirchen, western Germany, on July 18, 2021

Workers clear a destroyed street after the floods caused major damage in Schuld near Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler

Workers clear a destroyed street after the floods caused major damage in Schuld near Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler

A view of destroyed houses in Erftstadt-Blessem, Germany, which were destroyed after the ground beneath them collapsed into a nearby gravel pit

A view of destroyed houses in Erftstadt-Blessem, Germany, which were destroyed after the ground beneath them collapsed into a nearby gravel pit

 

3 Comments

Leave a Comment

Related News