Germany floods: Death toll ‘expected to rise’ as locals slam failure to prevent disaster

Germany floods: Criticism being aimed at authorities says Saudelli

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Germany and Belgium have been grappling with horrifying weather conditions for the past few days, with major flooding causing severe damage and destruction. At least 125 people have died because of the floods in both nations and the death toll is now “expected to rise” after entire towns were levelled by the water. Speaking from the ravaged Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany, local reporter Giulia Saudelli said residents had begun to turn on authorities for failing to prevent the catastrophic flooding with appropriate preventative measures.

Asked whether locals are angry with the authorities, Ms Saudelli told Channel 4: “I’m hearing that from some people who do think that more should have been done before.

“I spoke to a volunteer who came here to try and help, and clean the town and he lives further north in the region.

“He has a farm with horses and said he was expecting this to happen and he took measures to prevent more damage from occurring to his property.”

Ms Saudelli continued: “He said authorities should have done that here, too.

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“Yes, there is criticism being levied against the authorities here for not acting early enough.”

Communications were cut in many areas and entire communities lay in ruins after swollen rivers tore through towns and villages in the western states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate as well as parts of Belgium and the Netherlands.

After days of heavy rain, 103 people have been confirmed dead in Germany alone since Wednesday, the largest number killed in a natural disaster in the country in almost 60 years.

Victims included 12 residents of a home for disabled people surprised by the floods during the night.

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CDU party leader Armin Laschet said the flooding was a “catastrophe of historic dimensions.”

Mr Laschet is Germany’s leading party’s candidate to take over from Chancellor Angela Merkel when she steps down from the position after 16 years at the helm of the country in September.

The devastation of the floods, attributed by meteorologists to a climate-change-driven shift in the jet stream that has brought inland water that once stayed at sea, could shake up an election that has until now seen little discussion of climate.

“It is a sad certainty that such extreme events will determine our day-to-day life more and more frequently in the future,” Laschet said, adding that more measures were needed to fight global warming.

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Some 114,000 households in Germany were without power on Friday and mobile phone networks had collapsed in some flooded regions, making it hard for authorities to keep track of the number of missing.

Roads in many affected areas were impassable after being washed away by the floods. Rescue crews tried to reach residents by boat or helicopter and had to communicate via walkie-talkie.

“The network has completely collapsed. The infrastructure has collapsed. Hospitals can’t take anyone in. Nursing homes had to be evacuated,” a spokeswoman for the regional government of Cologne said.

Authorities worried that further dams could overflow, spilling uncontrolled floods into communities below, and were trying to ease pressure by releasing more water.

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