BERLIN — The German capital is home to a large number of foreigners. Despite the fact that the death toll from devastating flooding in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland last week continues to rise, European authorities have revised down the number of people reported missing as floodwaters receded in those countries.
After days of uncertainty, the police in Cologne, Germany, announced late on Sunday that more than 700 people who were believed to be missing after heavy floods ripped buildings from their foundations, overturned cars, and inundated homes and streets have been identified as safe.
However, at least 150 people are still missing in that area alone, and it is unclear how many people are still missing across the broader region that was devastated by the catastrophic flooding. Approximately 1,300 people were reported missing in just one German district, Ahrweiler, at the height of the flooding.
Earlier in the day, the death toll from days of flooding in the region had risen to at least 195 people across the region.
As of Monday morning, 31 people have been confirmed dead in Belgium, according to the authorities, with a further 127 people still missing, according to the authorities. At least 163 people have been confirmed dead in Germany, according to official figures.
The German police reported on Monday that 117 people had died and 749 others had been injured in Ahrweiler, a district in the northern Rhineland-Palatinate state. The Ahr Valley is still being searched by rescue crews, who are attempting to determine how many people are still missing, according to local officials.
The local authorities in Ahrweiler initially reported that 1,300 people were missing on Thursday, but they have not provided an update on that figure since then. New figures on victims have been released by the police in the nearby city of Koblenz, but no figures have been released on the number of people who have gone missing, which they say is too difficult to ascertain accurately due to the failure of communication networks and the possibility that some people may have been reported missing more than once.
Moreover, the authorities reported that at least 46 people died in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and one person died on Sunday in the state of Bavaria.
Now that the floodwaters have receded, residents of the affected area are beginning to take stock of the damage and ask questions about how the brutal storm, which forecasters predicted earlier in the week, could have caused such a significant loss of life.
In an interview with the German newspaper Bild, Peter Altmaier, the country’s economy minister, stated that it was critical to conduct an investigation into any potential failures as soon as emergency aid had been delivered to the areas that had been devastated by flooding.
According to The Associated Press, he stated, “We will have to look at whether there were things that didn’t go well, whether there were things that went wrong, and then we will have to correct those things.” This is not about pointing fingers; rather, it is about making improvements for the future.
In an interview with Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio station, Armin Schuster, the head of the federal office for civil protection and disaster assistance, said that criticism of the country’s flood warning system was misplaced, noting that 150 alerts were sent from Wednesday to Saturday last week.
As reported by the German news outlet Deutsche Welle, he stated that “the warning infrastructure has not been our problem, but rather how authorities and the general public respond sensitively to these warnings.”
Flooding experts noted last week that there had most likely been a disconnect between the disaster forecasts and the localised alert systems that communicate the level of risk to residents, and that this had most likely been the case.
However, Horst Seehofer, the German interior minister, who spoke to reporters while on a visit to the Steinbachtal Dam in North Rhine-Westphalia, rejected criticism that the federal authorities had failed to issue enough warnings.
“Warnings are sent to the states and to the communities, which are then responsible for making decisions. According to Reuters, “It is not Berlin that declares a state of emergency; it is the local government that does so.” “The channels of communication for which the federal government is responsible were effective.” – Reuters
Storm surges were unprecedented, according to meteorologists and German officials, and many have pointed to the impact of climate change on the severity of weather events as a major factor in the flooding.
As a result of climate change, researchers have discovered that severe storms are occurring more frequently. This is due to the fact that a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture and generate more, and more powerful, rainfall.
However, even as officials began to investigate why so many communities appeared to be unprepared for the flooding, rescue and recovery efforts continued unabated. In addition, other European countries were increasingly becoming involved.
The European Union’s special civil protection mechanism was invoked for the first time by Belgium, which requested assistance from other EU countries through the bloc’s special civil protection mechanism. More than 300 rescue workers from Austria, France, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands arrived in Belgium in the past two days to assist with search and rescue efforts. Thousands of Belgians also responded to a call for volunteers issued by the Belgian Red Cross, which received thousands of responses.
“The solidarity I have witnessed is heartwarming,” Annelies Verlinden, the Belgian interior minister, said in a press conference held on Monday. On National Day, on July 21, she stated that the festivities planned for the day would have been scaled back and that the holiday would be dedicated to “Belgian heroes.”