Flood tolls in Europe exceed 180 as rescuers dig deeper

Flood deaths in Berlin — Western Europe exceeded 180 on Sunday after rescue workers dug deep into the wreckage left by the retreating water. Heavy rains, though not on the scale of the catastrophic onslaught last week, fueled new floods in southeastern Germany and Austria.

Police have set tolls above 110 from the devastated Ahrweiler region of Rhineland-Palatinate in western Germany, and said they are concerned that the number may still increase. In Germany’s most populous neighboring state of North Rhine-Westphalia, 46 people were found dead, including four firefighters. And Belgium confirmed 27 casualties.

On Sunday, Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Schuld, a village on the curve of the river Aa, which was devastated by the floods, and confirmed her own damage. Her visit comes after the German president goes to the area on Saturday and reveals that it needs long-term assistance.

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After heavy rains and floods along the Elft in Bad Münstereifel, Germany, on July 17, 2021, men are helping clean up by carrying debris and debris. (Roberto Pfeil / dpa via AP)

Treasury Minister Olaf Scholz proposed a package of immediate aid at a cabinet meeting Wednesday, saying the Bild am Sonntag would need more than € 300 million ($ 354 million). And he said authorities had to start setting up a multi-billion euro reconstruction program from previous flood experiences.

Pope Francis prayed to support the victims of the floods and “all efforts to help those who have been severely affected.”

“We express our intimacy with the inhabitants of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, which were hit by the devastating floods,” he said in the first public visit to his followers at St. Peter’s Square after major surgery. .. “May the Lord welcome the deceased and comfort his family.”

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On July 15, 2021, houses in the Earl Valley in the Walporzheim district were destroyed after extreme weather events in Bad Neuenard-Ahrweiler, Germany. (Thomas Frey / dpa, via AP)

Officials in the Ahrweiler area have so far urged people not to make any more donations in kind. Police said the “overwhelming willingness to help” filled clothing and food storage facilities.

Rain has stopped in the worst affected areas of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, but storms and heavy rains continue in other parts of Western and Central Europe. Floods struck Saturday night across the German-Czech border, the entire country where the flood last week, the southeastern corner of Germany, and the Austrian border.

After the ash river swelled, about 130 people evacuated from their homes in the Berchtesgaden area of ​​Germany. At least one person died. The railroad to Berchtesgaden has been closed.

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Houses and cars in the Earl Valley in the Walporzheim district were destroyed on July 17, 2021 in Ahrweiler, Germany. (AP via Thomas Frey / dpa)

At the end of Saturday, flash floods struck the nearby Austrian town of Hallein, but no casualties were reported. Further west, part of the town of Kufstein was flooded. Heavy rains and storms have caused serious damage in some parts of Austria.

By Geir Moulson

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