B.undesirable President Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed his condolences to the people affected by the flood disaster. “We mourn with those who have lost friends, acquaintances or family members. Your fate tears our hearts apart, ”said Steinmeier on Saturday afternoon during a visit to the particularly affected town of Erftstadt, west of Cologne. He spoke there together with the North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister Armin Laschet (CDU) with those affected and the emergency services. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) is expected on Sunday in the heavily devastated region in Rhineland-Palatinate.
The SPD was outraged by Laschet’s behavior in Erftstadt on Saturday. The criticism related to a video circulating on social media in which Laschet laughs in the background with bystanders, while a visibly affected Federal President promises help to those affected. Both had previously made a picture of the situation on site together.
Kühnert: A question of character
“I’m really speechless,” wrote SPD General Secretary Lars Klingbeil on Twitter in the afternoon and linked to the video. SPD Deputy Chief Kevin Kühnert wrote on Twitter: “A question of character”. Criticism also came from the FDP. Faction Vice Michael Theurer said the “Bild am Sonntag”: “Rhenish cheerful nature in honor, but while the Federal President is thinking of the victims fooling around without a mask, the seriousness of the situation does not do justice.”
Laschet, who is applying for chancellorship for the Union, responded to the criticism on Twitter. He thanked the Federal President for his visit and added: “The fate of those affected is close to our hearts, and we have heard about it in many conversations. All the more I regret the impression that was created through a conversation. This was inappropriate and I am sorry. “
The Federal President called for solidarity and donations for the victims in Erftstadt on Saturday. “Many people here in the regions have nothing left but their hope. And we must not disappoint this hope, ”said Steinmeier.
He thanked the emergency services and the employees of the municipal administrations, who had shouldered the command, “on behalf of all Germans”. Many would have worked “to exhaustion and beyond”. The call for help from all parts of the region is “big and urgent”. But the great loss would have to be borne by those “who lost relatives in the floods,” Steinmeier said.
“The water is receding, but it will possibly become visible in the next few days what damage remains,” said the Federal President. He warned: People trusted that solidarity would continue even if the topic no longer dominated the headlines.
Laschet promised that the state of North Rhine-Westphalia would “do everything possible” to organize non-bureaucratic direct aid for those affected. After that, structural help must be given to rebuild everything. Laschet said he was glad that both the federal government and the other countries had promised support. It is a “national task” to help the affected region. State and municipalities could not do this alone.
Glimmer of hope in the chaos
While the devastating flood is slowly retreating from many flood areas in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, the search for fatalities and injuries continues in the rubble. By Saturday noon, the number of deaths rose to more than 130. In the Rhineland-Palatinate area of Ahrweiler alone, over 90 people were killed, according to the police. It is feared that more will be added because some wrecked cars and full cellars have not yet been checked. Hundreds of people were injured, according to police.