At least 103 people have died in Germany following torrential rainfalls that swept through the country, hundreds are still missing, authorities said Friday, bringing the Europe-wide death toll to 117.
The death toll in Rhineland-Palatinate has risen to at least 60, the state premier Malu Dreyer said Friday, adding that there was bad news every hour.
”We have 60 dead to mourn at the moment and it is to be feared that the number will rise even further, ” Dreyer said at a news conference, adding ”We have not yet reached the stage where we can say that situation is easing”.
”In the meantime, the assessment of all of us is that the damage is so dramatic and enormous that we will have to deal this issue for a long time to come, including the reconstruction of municipalities,” he continued.
Earlier, police in Koblenz in Rhineland-Palatine initially said up to 1,300 people were unaccounted – mainly as a result of phone lines being down – but now say they expect those numbers to be revised down as phone lines are restored and rescue operations continue.
As least 43 people have died in Germany’s most populous state populous state of North-Rhine Westphalia, the state’s Interior Ministry spokeswoman Katja Heins told CNN.
Armin Laschet, North-Rhine Westphalia’s state premier called the flash floods on Friday ”a catastrophe of historic proportions”, adding that more fatalities are expected as a result.
”The floods have literally pulled the rug from under people’s feet,” Laschet said.
The German military has deployed 850 staff in a total of 20 counties in Northrein-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, a spokesman said at a press briefing in Berlin Friday.
The German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Friday urged that climate action is needed to prevent disasters like this in future. ” Only if we take up the fight against climate change decisively, we will be able to prevent we will be able to keep extreme weather conditions such as those we are experiencing” Steinmeier said in Berlin.