Merkel Prepares to Visit Flooded Areas as Death Toll Exceeds 130
(Bloomberg) -- Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to visit areas affected by Germany’s worst flooding in decades as the death toll exceeds 130 and hundreds remain unaccounted for, according to Bild am Sonntag.
Merkel’s set to travel to Rhineland-Palatinate on Sunday, the newspaper said. Water levels remain high and houses continue to collapse in some areas. A government spokeswoman said the visit isn’t confirmed.
Late Friday, Merkel said disaster victims will receive short and long-term financial support. She spoke on a video conference with Armin Laschet, premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, another of the impacted states.
German politicians have called for permanent federal support to states and municipalities to adapt to climate change, which has been blamed for this week’s historic rains.
Rescue workers continue to search for survivors and thousands of homes have been without power and phone connections for days.
More than 700 people were evacuated late Friday after a dam broke near the town of Wassenberg, close to the Dutch border, according to DPA. The flooding has also hit parts of Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Belgium, where at least 20 people have died.
Laschet, the candidate of Merkel’s CDU party in September’s general election, spoke of a “disaster of historic proportions.” Green Party candidate Annalena Baerbock traveled to the affected region on Friday, and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited on Saturday along with Laschet.
The flooding is severely impacting Germany’s agribusiness and the country’s Agriculture Ministry added the theme to the agenda for a European meeting in Brussels on Monday, according to a statement on Saturday.
The disaster has also impacted energy businesses in Germany. Most of RWE AG’s hydroelectric dams in the western region and one power station in the Netherlands are out of operation for now, the company said in a statement on Saturday.
Germany’s largest power generator has also halted operations at the Tagebau Inden open-cast coal mine, where one employee was reported missing on Friday, curbing supplies to a coal power plant now operating at reduced capacity. The company plans to resume mining operations at the end of next week, and expects damages in the mid-double-digit million euro level, it said.
Weather conditions should normalize next week, which may provide some relief, national weather forecaster Deutscher Wetterdienst said Friday in its latest four-week forecast. But parts of Germany could see more rains from July 26 to early August, it said.
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