Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday she was horrified by the ‘surreal’ devastation in the flood-ravaged region of Germany, as the death toll in Western Europe reached at least 184 dead and dozens still missing .
Wearing hiking boots and giving rescuers sure pandemic punches, the veteran leader made his way through the village of Schuld in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, one of the two hardest-hit regions of the country. western Germany.
“It is a surreal and worrying situation,” Merkel told reporters, visibly shaken, as she pledged swift help to rebuild.
At least 157 people have died since Wednesday in the worst flooding in living memory in Germany, police said.
At least 27 people have lost their lives in neighboring Belgium.
Historic heavy rainfall has also hit Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
One person died in Berchtesgadener Land, a spokeswoman for the Bavarian district told AFP.
In Austria, rescue workers in the Salzburg and Tyrol regions were on high alert in the event of a flood. The picturesque town of Hallein suffered serious damage after its streets were submerged.
“May the Lord welcome the dead and comfort their loved ones, may he support the efforts of all who come to the aid of those who have suffered serious damage,” he said on Sunday.
German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has pledged more than 300 million euros ($ 354 million) in emergency aid to people who have lost homes and businesses, as cabinet approved a reconstruction program on Wednesday much more important.
With experts claiming that climate change makes extreme weather events more likely, Merkel said the world “must hurry” in the fight against global warming.
Armin Laschet, prime minister of the hard-hit state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and race leader, said efforts to tackle global warming should be “stepped up”.
In the footage, Laschet could be seen chatting and joking in the background as President Frank-Walter Steinmeier made a statement expressing his sympathies to the grieving families.
Laschet then apologized on Twitter for the “inappropriate” moment.
The extent of the impact of the floods is gradually becoming clearer in Germany, with the assessment of damaged buildings, some of which will have to be demolished, and efforts underway to restore gas, electricity and telephone services.
Local authorities in NRW and Rhineland-Palatinate said dozens of people remain missing in both states, possibly due to communications disruptions.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Prime Minister Alexander de Croo traveled together to the flooded areas of Rochefort and Pepinster on Saturday.
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