© Reuters. File photo: Garbage taken after heavy rainfall in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Germany, July 15, 2021. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
Authors: Martin Schlicht and David Sahl
Reuters, Germany/ERFTSTADT-Due to the imminent breach of another dam, western Germany feared further flooding on Friday, and the death toll rose to more than 80, which was the worst mass loss of life in Germany in years.
In the towns and villages of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, entire communities were in ruins after flooding.
“The suffering is increasing,” Maru Dreyer, the governor of the province of Rhineland-Palatinate, told ZDF Broadcasting Corporation, adding that more than 50 people died in floods in her state alone.
She said that the infrastructure has been completely destroyed and reconstruction will take a lot of time and money.
The district government stated on Facebook (NASDAQ:) that about 1,300 people are missing in the Ahrweiler district south of Cologne in the neighboring state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
In some areas affected by the floods, mobile phone networks have collapsed, which means that family and friends cannot find relatives.
The Cologne regional government said on Facebook that further north, in Erftstadt near Cologne, houses collapsed on Friday morning and rescuers are working hard to help residents who returned home despite warnings.
It said that many people are still in the house and a few are missing. The gas leak further hindered rescuers from trying to rescue the trapped people by boat.
The roads around Erftstadt were destroyed by floods and became impassable.
Rurtalsperre, a dam near the Belgian border, was flooded overnight, while the other Steinbachtalsperre between Ahrweiler and Erftstadt was unstable. Several dams in parts of the country have burst their banks.
The death toll is the highest of all natural disasters in Germany since the deadly North Sea flood in 1962, which killed approximately 340 people. In 1998, a high-speed ICE (NYSE:) train collided, causing 101 deaths.
The 2002 flood on the Elbe River was called the “one-in-a-century flood” by the media at the time, causing 21 deaths in eastern Germany and more than 100 deaths in the wider Central European region.
The North Rhine-Westphalia state parliament will hold an emergency meeting on the flood issue on Friday.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told Spiegel magazine that the federal government aims to provide financial support to the affected areas as soon as possible, adding that the package of measures should be submitted to the Cabinet for approval on Wednesday.
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