Berlin, 17 July 2021 (dpa/MIA) – The number of people who have died in the devastating flooding in western Germany continues to rise, with the death toll reaching more than 130 after police announced 90 fatalities in the Ahrweiler district on Saturday.
Saturday’s figure brings the total number of deaths in Germany‘s western regions to 133, with 43 confirmed in North Rhine Westphalia late on Friday.
Rescue work continued across Europe where more than 150 people have died in the flooding after heavy rainfall hit parts of Germany, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
In Germany, police said on Saturday morning they feared more deaths would confirmed in the Ahrweiler district, the focus of the crisis in the western state of Rhineland Palatinate.
Police there said they had received reports of 618 people injured.
In the Ahr valley area, where bridges are damaged and roads blocked, police asked the public to avoid the area where possible to keep routes clear for rescue vehicles.
Many are still missing more than two days after massive flooding hit the region and search and rescue efforts are ongoing. Images of devastation have shocked the nation.
Later on Saturday, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is due to North Rhine Westphalia. He is expected in the Rhein-Erft district and is then due to join state premier Armin Laschet in a visit to Erftstadt, where numerous houses and cars were washed away in recent days.
In Erftstadt-Blessem, several buildings and parts of a historic castle were destroyed due to a sink hole and major landslides.
State Interior Minister Herbert Reul said on Friday evening it was assumed several people in Erftstadt had died but the situation was not yet clear.
Steinmeier plans to gain an overview of the situation and speak to emergency services.
Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged support for those affected by flooding during a Friday video conference with Laschet, who is also the frontrunner to succeed Merkel at the September election.
Merkel also plans to travel soon to hard-hit parts of Rhineland Palatinate.
Thousands of emergency workers are in the Eifel region, where the deluge devastated entire towns on Thursday night. More than two days later, people are still missing.
Damaged power and telephone lines and interruptions to mobile phone services have made it harder to locate people.
Initial forecasts for Rhineland Palatinate showed the danger of flooding had fallen, although warnings remained in place around the Ahr river and the tributaries of the lower Sauer.
The Green party candidate Annalena Baerbock also travelled to the region on Friday after ending her holidays early. She praised the way people were supporting each other and taking in those affected, in a tweet.