At least 103 people have died in Germany in torrential rains that swept the country, hundreds are still missing, authorities said on Friday, bringing the death toll across Europe to 117.
The death toll in Rhineland-Palatinate has risen to at least 60, Land Prime Minister Malu Dreyer said on Friday, adding that there was bad news every hour.
“We have 60 dead to mourn right now and there is concern that the number will increase even more,” Dreyer said at a press conference, adding “We have not yet reached the stage where we can say this situation is easing ”.
“In the meantime, the toll of each of us is that the damage is so dramatic and enormous that we will have to face this issue for a long time to come, including the reconstruction of municipalities,” he continued.
Previously, police in Koblenz in Rhineland-Palatinate initially said up to 1,300 people were missing – mostly due to telephone lines going down – but now say they expect those numbers to be revised declining as telephone lines are restored and rescue operations continue.
At least 43 people have died in Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, state Interior Ministry spokeswoman Katja Heins told CNN.
Armin Laschet, Prime Minister of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, called Friday’s flash floods a “disaster of historic proportions”, adding that more deaths are expected as a result.
“The floods literally pulled the rug out from under people’s feet,” Laschet said.
The German military has deployed 850 personnel to a total of 20 counties in Northrein-Westfalen and Rhineland-Palatinate, a spokesperson said at a press briefing in Berlin on Friday.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier insisted on Friday that climate action is needed to prevent such disasters in the future. “It is only if we resolutely tackle climate change that we can prevent us from being able to sustain extreme weather conditions such as the one we are experiencing,” Steinmeier said in Berlin.
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