Mainz, Germany, 18 July 2021 (dpa/MIA) – The number of people who died in the devastating flooding in western Germany rose further on Sunday as Chancellor Angela Merkel was scheduled to visit the worst-affected area in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
On Sunday morning, police said the death toll in the Ahrweiler district of Rhineland-Palatinate alone had risen to 110, as the wider region faced a huge clean-up operation.
This brought the toll across the country to over 150, including 45 casualties confirmed dead in the neighbouring state of North Rhine Westphalia.
Police said 670 people had been injured in Ahrweiler, where the Ahr tributary turned into a torrent after heavy rains, inundating whole communities.
The number of fatalities could rise further, police said.
In many of the surrounding areas power and phone lines were still not operational.
Merkel is expected in the municipality of Schuld in Ahrweiler on Sunday afternoon. Afterwards, a press statement is planned in nearby Adenau, with state Premier Malu Dreyer.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Saturday called for solidarity and donations for the victims during a visit to a North Rhine Westphalian disaster area on the Erft river.
Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told reporters meanwhile that a “national effort” would be needed to put the region back on its feet.
The initial sum required was in the hundreds of millions of euros, he told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, and cabinet would be meeting on Wednesday to consider the plans.
Urgent financial aid would come on top of longer-term reconstruction costs, which could run into the billions, he suggested.
“The first urgent financial aid should reach those affected in July,” he was quoted as saying.
Hundreds of kilometres away in Germany‘s Upper Bavaria, the district of Berchtesgadener Land on Saturday night declared a disaster situation due to flooding.
Two people had died in the area, but it was initially unclear whether the deaths were related to the floods, said Alexandra Rothenbuchner, spokesperson for the Berchtesgadener Land district office. The rain was expected to ease during the day.
The extreme rain and flooding also particularly affected parts of the Belgium and the Netherlands.
The death toll in Belgium rose to 27 as of Saturday evening, the National Crisis Centre said, with over 100 missing.