Death toll climbs to 135 in west Germany floods
Berlin, July 17 (EFE).- The number of people killed by the devastating floods in western Germany climbed to 135 on Saturday amid ongoing search and rescue operations in the areas affected by fresh inundations.
Authorities in the affected states of North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous in Germany, and Rhineland-Palatinate said more bodies might be buried under landslides and debris of the destruction caused by rainstorms in recent days.
Authorities evacuated hundreds of people overnight after floodwaters broke a dike despite efforts to strengthen it in the city of Heinberg, close to the border with the Netherlands.
Rubble clearing work is underway in other regional cities, while the weather services have ruled out significant rainfall on Saturday.
The power supply remains cut off for around 100,000 people in some districts.
However, rain alerts remain in other regions in the south, especially Baden-Württemberg, where civil protection and fire services reinforce the river and valley embankments.
The devastating floods began on Thursday after days of persistent rain.
The worst damage was caused after the tributaries of Rhine and other major rivers overflowed due to the massive influx of water and caused landslides.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is likely to visit the region Saturday, a day after he urged the nation to unite against the tragedy.
He called for accelerating the fight against climate change.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was on an official visit to the United States when the disaster struck, is also likely to visit the affected areas soon.
Merkel has remained in close contact with regional authorities, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer to monitor the calamity.
The cabinet is to discuss a special aid package for the flood-affected populations next week, local media reports said.
The government had issued an 8-billion euro ($9.4 billion) package for the 2013 floods, which had caused less devastation spread over eight of the country’s 16 provinces. EFE