Thursday, July 29

The floods in Germany and Belgium leave two hundred dead

The death toll in the devastating floods in western Germany now rises to 161, after another five dead bodies were found in the region most affected by the disaster, the “Land” of Rhineland Palatinate, according to EFE. In Belgium, the storm has left 36 fatalities, local media report.

In Germany, Koblenz police sources reported this Monday that the total number of deaths in the Ahr river basin, a tributary of the Rhine, has risen to 117 – compared to 112 in the previous report. The rest of the fatalities correspond to the “Land” of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The situation after the devastating floods remains tense in western Germany, where there is a struggle to reestablish basic services, while in the east and south of the country rainfall subsided and with it the risk of new overflows.

Civil protection teams, firefighters and the army are working to secure dams and banks of overflowing rivers, especially in the Ahr basin.

In vast areas the electricity supply is still cut off, as well as drinking water, which must be transported from other parts of the region. Nor has it been possible to standardize rail transport, especially as regards regional trains. About 80 stations of both “Länder” were flooded by the waters.

In Bavaria, in the south, and in Saxony, in the east, the tension has been lowered, after the alarm on Sunday due to the overflowing of some rivers and the fears that this would cause landslides like those registered in the west .

The level of the Danube as it passes through the Bavarian city of Passau this Monday stood at 8.18 meters, below the historical record of 8.5 meters.

On both Saturday and Sunday, some towns in Upper Bavaria, including tourist centers in the region, were evacuated.

Merkel’s visit

This Sunday, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, promised “urgent aid” to the victims of the floods in the west of the country, the effects of which she describes as “surreal” and which reveal the need to apply “ambition and speed” in the fight against climate crisis.

“From there we get a real picture of what happened in the middle of a surreal and ghostly panorama,” said the German Chancellor, after visiting several of the critical points of the floods in Rhineland-Palatinate.

“It is not only about what happened here, but about the set of extreme phenomena that we are witnessing,” said Merkel, in relation to the climate crisis. “We have to reflect on how we should act on that to move towards climate neutrality”, objective, something that must occur, he added, “as soon as possible.”

The chancellor confessed absolutely “shocked”, in a statement to the media, after visiting the town of Schuld, among other points, accompanied by the head of the Government of that “Land”, the social democrat Malu Dreyer.

This town, of about 700 inhabitants, was practically destroyed by the force of the waters and has become a symbol of the catastrophe that has spread across vast regions of western Germany and neighboring Belgium.

The chancellor also indicated that her Government will already undertake in the next Council of Ministers, on the 21st, an urgent aid package, which will arrive, she said “directly and without bureaucracy,” to those affected. Merkel did not specify the scope of these aid, but her Finance Minister, Olaf Scholz, advanced in statements to German media the figure of 300 million euros, only in direct urgent aid to affected citizens.

“We are facing a catastrophe of hitherto unknown dimensions,” said Dreyer, while Merkel insisted that the panorama left by the force of the waters “escapes descriptions in words.”

It is the second high-ranking visit to the flood-hit regions, following the one made on Saturday by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to neighboring “Land” in North Rhine-Westphalia, where he met with the Prime Minister. regional and candidate for the German Chancellery, the conservative Armin Laschet.

So far there is no assessment of the amount of damage to infrastructure in the region, although in the media there is talk of billions. In the 2013 floods, less dramatic but which affected eight of the 16 “Länder” in the country, the Executive approved a special package of 8,000 million euros.

36 dead in Belgium

The floods of a few days ago in Belgium have left at least 36 dead of which 17 have been identified, as reported by the French-speaking radio television RTBF. According to the latest data published this Sunday by the federal crisis center, there are 163 missing people.

The authorities have encouraged citizens who have not yet had contact with their relatives to inform the police as soon as possible. “If you have not heard from a relative, we invite you to contact the local police area that collects information on missing persons.”

Although rescue operations have now been completed in the various areas affected by torrential rains and floods, the searches are continuing. In the town of Pepinster (in the Wallonia region), where about 1,000 people had to leave their homes, rescue teams resumed work this Sunday to try to find victims, which takes place in very difficult conditions, due to the risk of collapse of some buildings.

In most of Belgium the water level has decreased in recent days after the floods. But in Wallonia the level of the river Mehaigne and its tributaries in the provinces of Liège and Namur continues to disturb the authorities.

Just over 37,000 households remain without electricity in the provinces of Liège and Walloon Brabant. In Flanders, some roads and houses are still under water in parts of Limburg and Flemish Brabant and it will take days for the situation to normalize, according to the Flemish Environment Agency.

On the other hand, in the face of the avalanche of solidarity, the authorities recommended this Sunday to people who want to help that they sign up for the volunteer platform created by the Red Cross or make a donation to the account of that organization.

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