Flooding in Germany: Ministry of Defense issues military disaster alert
DW, 16 Jul 2021
The massive flooding that hit western Germany has killed at least 103 people and wiped out several houses. The North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Ministry announced on Friday that at least 43 died in the flooding. More than 60 people have been reported dead in Rhineland-Palatinate.
Several houses have collapsed in Erftstadt, south of Cologne, and rescue crews were struggling to help residents who had returned to their houses despite the warnings, officials said on Friday. Several people were missing, while a gas leak was further hampering rescue workers as they tried to reach stranded people by boat, the Cologne district government said. A spokesman for the district government of Cologne said 55 people have been rescued from affected houses, while 15 were still trapped in their homes. The Bundeswehr, the German military, is stepping in with vehicles to help rescue the trapped people, the spokesperson said. He appealed to residents who had been evacuated not to return to their homes. "Returning is life-threatening," he said.
Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said the main focus for the German military, the Bundeswehr, will be assisting the emergency response. "I have already ordered that all other assignments that are not directly related to the missions abroad be put on hold," Kramp-Karrenbauer said on Friday. "The Bundeswehr is already providing active help with emergency response and clearing work with its quickly available on-site forces," she added.
Rescue workers continue searching for missing people on Friday as dozens were still missing across western Germany. Police in Koblenz stressed that people should not go to affected areas to search for their relatives or belongings. "You put yourself in danger and, possibly, hinder the rescue measures," police said on Twitter. There were still more than 1,300 people unaccounted for in the Ahrweiler region, possibly due to mobile networks being down.
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