German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the floods that ravaged parts of Germany as “surreal” and “horrible”, as the death toll caused by floods in Western Europe has risen to more than 180, and dozens of people are still missing.
Merkel promised on Sunday to provide financial assistance quickly after visiting one of the regions Most affected The record rainfall and floods in recent days have caused at least 157 deaths in Germany alone. This is the country’s worst natural disaster in the past six years.
“This is terrible,” she told residents of the small town of Adenau in the Rhineland-Palatinate state, one of the two worst-hit areas in western Germany. “German can hardly describe the destruction that occurred.”
“Germany is a powerful country,” Merkel said. “We will fight against this force of nature in the short and medium to long term.”
Merkel visited Schuld, a village on a narrow bend in the Ahr River in western Germany. Many buildings in the village were damaged or destroyed by the rapidly rising flood on Wednesday night. The authorities said that some people are still missing and they worry that the death toll may increase.
She also called for greater attention to the political focus of curbing climate change. “We must hurry, we must speed up the fight against climate change,” Merkel said.
Now the focus has shifted to southern Germany and neighboring Austria, which are still on alert in the heavy rain.
In the Berchtesgaden region of southern Germany, roads turned into rivers, some vehicles were washed away, and large tracts of land were buried in thick mud. Hundreds of rescue workers are looking for survivors in the area bordering Austria.
In the Salzburg region of Austria, when the Kottbach River burst its banks on Saturday night, powerful floods washed the city center, but no casualties were reported.
Parts of Switzerland are still in flood warning status, although the threat posed by some of the most dangerous water bodies, such as Lake Lucerne and the Aare River in Bern, has eased.
The European floods that started on Wednesday, Mainly fight Germany Rhineland-Palatinate, North Rhine-Westphalia and parts of Belgium. The entire community was cut off, without electricity or communications.
In North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, 46 people were killed, including 4 firefighters. Belgium confirmed 27 deaths.
German Finance Minister Olaf Schultz told the weekly newspaper Bild am Sonntag that the German government will immediately prepare more than 300 million euros (354 million US dollars) and billions of euros for repairing collapsed houses, streets and bridges.
“The loss is huge. It’s clear: Those who have lost their business and house cannot contain the loss alone.”
Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told the newspaper that a short-term payment of 10,000 euros ($11,805) may also be provided to businesses affected by the flooding and the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a report from Al Jazeera’s Adam Raney in the village of Schulder in Germany, “No matter where you look, you can see the destruction.”
“People’s Home [are] It’s totally chaotic,” Rani said.
“We keep seeing people… buckets of dirt and debris taken from their homes. They look angry [and] When we asked them what they wanted from the Prime Minister, they said that their current problems are too big to talk about stupid political issues. “
Scientists who have long stated that climate change will lead to greater downpours say that it will still take several weeks to determine its role in these relentless rains.
Belgium will hold a national day of mourning on Tuesday, the water level drops on Sunday, and clean-up work is underway. The army was sent to the eastern town of Pepinster, where more than a dozen buildings collapsed in search of more victims.
Thousands of people do not have electricity, and the Belgian authorities say that the supply of clean drinking water is also a big problem.
European Commission President Ursula von der Lein and Prime Minister Alexander De Kro visited the flooded areas of Rochefort and Pepinster together on Saturday.
“Europe is with you,” Von der Lein tweeted afterwards. “We mourn with you, and we will rebuild with you.”
Today I went to Rochefort and Pepinster. I saw the damage caused by the flood.
When I meet people who have lost their homes, my heart hurts. This is the savings of a lifetime.
I told them: Europe is with you. We mourn with you, and we will rebuild with you. pic.twitter.com/VLcHKk8hKo
-Ursula von der Lein (@vonderleyen) July 17, 2021
Dutch emergency services officials said that the situation in the southern part of Limburg has stabilized. Tens of thousands have been evacuated in recent days, but the northern part is still on high alert.
“In the north, they are closely monitoring the dams and whether they will stick to it,” Jos Teeuwen of the Regional Water Authority said at a press conference on Sunday.
In the southern part of Limburg, the authorities still worry about the safety of roads and bridges and other transportation infrastructures, which have been hit by high water levels.
So far, the Netherlands has only reported property loss No one died or was missing.
Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen in New Bergen, the Netherlands, reported that “the danger still exists”.
“The water level is still high, and it is expected that it will remain in this state for a few days, and hopefully then it will subside,” Vaessen said.
“But of course, this is not the part of the Netherlands that people think will be flooded. This part is actually above sea level, while most of the rest of the Netherlands is below, but the river is still fully erupting on its banks,” she added.