Merkel pledges aid

Schuld/Bad Reichenhall (dpa) – After the devastating storms in western Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her shock and pledged rapid aid during a visit to the disaster area. It is a “surreal, ghostly situation” there, the politician said on Sunday after a tour of the village of Schuld in the Eifel region, where the floods left mountains of rubble and destroyed houses in its wake. “There is virtually no word in the German language to describe the devastation that has been wrought here.” She then visited the nearby town of Adenau, which was also badly hit, with Rhineland-Palatinate’s Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (photo).

The number of confirmed fatalities in Germany rose to almost 160 at the weekend. While the floodwaters in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia have receded in many places and the clean-up operation is underway, heavy rains in south-eastern Bavaria, Saxon Switzerland and Austria caused further flooding and landslides. They were not on the same scale as in the west, however.

Merkel and Dreyer went to see the situation for themselves and talked to emergency crews and residents. Schuld in the Ahr valley and Adenau, barely ten kilometres away, had been engulfed by masses of water, mud and debris. Merkel said at the joint press conference that Germany is a strong country and can afford the short- and medium-term aid. “We stand by your side.” In addition, she said, more attention would be paid to the climate and nature.

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