Nafter severe storms and continuous rain in western Germany, several people died. On Thursday night in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, brooks that burst their banks turned into raging rivers and devastated numerous villages. Power outages paralyzed a number of regions.
You can read all current developments on floods and storms in the live blog here.
According to the electricity distribution network operator Westnetz, at least 200,000 people are without electricity in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate. For safety reasons, transformer stations would be switched off if water penetrated, the company said. Because of the flooded streets, some of the facilities could not be reached, explained a spokeswoman. “We are working with all available resources.” The company supplies large parts of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate with electricity, especially rural areas such as the Eifel.
In addition, dams threatened to overflow. The water levels also rose on the Rhine, Ruhr, Moselle and smaller rivers. Fire brigades, technical relief organizations (THW) and other rescue workers were in constant use. The amount of property damage could not yet be foreseen.
Malu Dreyer: “Really devastating”
At the beginning of the plenary session in Mainz, the Rhineland-Palatinate Prime Minister Malu Dreyer clearly stated which catastrophe has just occurred: “There are dead, there are missing, there are many who are still in danger.” She described the situation as “real devastating. ”Whole places were flooded, houses simply swam away. Police helicopters are on the way to rescue people from rooftops. The Bundeswehr is also helping with around 200 soldiers. There are a lot of missing people, says Dreyer. It is unclear whether they could have saved themselves. Reaching them is difficult because the cellular network has partially failed.
Eifel-Ort Schuld, almost 70 people are missing, six houses have collapsed, many are unstable. People fled to their rooftops in need. The village with around 700 inhabitants – near the state border with North Rhine-Westphalia – lies in a loop on the Ahr, which is usually a small river. Now the Ahr has turned into a raging body of water. In the Erdorf district of Bitburg, too, the force of the water can be seen, brown masses of mud literally tumble through the streets. On aerial photos of Schuld you can see how parts of the place almost sink into the floods with rubble and mud. Pictures of guilt, where about 660 people live, bear witness to the devastation.
The municipality of Kordel in the Trier-Saarburg district with around 2000 inhabitants cannot be reached on Thursday, the flood cut off all access routes. One is now trying to reach the residents with the help of the Bundeswehr with watercraft, says a district spokesman. There are similar rescue operations on the Sauer River, a few kilometers away.
Several dead, including firefighters
Police spokesman Lars Brummer said four people died in the Ahrweiler district in Rhineland-Palatinate. More than 30 people are missing. “We have therefore set up a missing person center.” A disaster alarm was triggered in the district. Several houses and a bridge have collapsed, numerous buildings are in danger of collapsing. About 50 people had brought themselves to safety on roofs and had to be rescued.
In the Märkisches Kreis in North Rhine-Westphalia, a firefighter died trying to save a man who had fallen into the water. Another firefighter collapsed in action and died. In Cologne, two people were found dead in their flooded cellars, local police authorities explain.
The city of Solingen in the Bergisches Land was also badly hit. According to the police, the district of Unterburg was cordoned off due to flooding, 600 people had to leave their homes and were accommodated in hotels. Rescue workers freed a man from a cellar shaft. He died on the way to the hospital, the police said. Numerous streets in the Westphalian city of Hagen were also flooded. An old people’s home had to be evacuated. The Bundeswehr rescued workers from an industrial area with rubber dinghies. They were trapped in water for more than 18 hours.
Bahn warns against traveling to NRW
Deutsche Bahn called on travelers to postpone journeys to and from North Rhine-Westphalia if possible. The extreme rainfall, for example, flooded tracks, and operating facilities were damaged. In many places, it is only possible to record storm damage when the water masses run off. Local traffic in North Rhine-Westphalia is severely impaired, the main routes Cologne – Wuppertal – Hagen – Dortmund and Cologne – Koblenz via Bonn are not passable.
The state government in Rhineland-Palatinate promised support to the affected districts. Interior Minister Roger Lewentz said the state government was on the side of those who were facing the ruins of their existence. “The storm hit our country hard. I fear for everyone who is in danger, ”said Prime Minister Malu Dreyer. “I would like to thank all helpers, fire brigades and emergency services who tirelessly fight against the water masses with great commitment.”