The small rural district of Ahrweiler, in western Germany, seemingly faced the full wrath of the week’s severe flooding, with bad weather killing dozens of people, injuring hundreds and leaving dozens of homes to rubble.
At least 62 people died in the storm and subsequent flooding, local police said said on Friday, adding that the grim toll could rise even higher. The district, which lies south of Cologne, has some 130,000 inhabitants and saw the River Ahr burst its banks, destroying nearby towns and villages.
Photos and videos posted to social media show destroyed bridges, streets flooded with fast-flowing streams of water and roads turned into canals. Entire villages in Ahrweiler are currently under water.
Police said it had received reports of at least 362 people injured in the municipality. On Thursday, the authorities reported that more than 1,300 people were missing in the Ahrweiler district alone.
Severe damage in the village of Schuld in the district of Ahrweiler after severe flooding of the river Ahr, in Schuld, Germany. According to the latest data from officials, at least 80 are dead and 1,300 are missing. epa / Sascha Steinbach#Wrong# flood#floodspic.twitter.com/PVNqKgrPak
— european press photo agency (@epaphotos) July 16, 2021
Earlier, drone images, obtained by video agency Ruptly of RT, showed the devastation caused by the flooding in the city of Insul.
The German army has been deployed to the area to assist in the search and rescue, and a helicopter has also been sent from France to join the operation, police said.
The officers thanked the people of the neighborhood for the “great solidarity and many offers of help.” Footage posted to social media shows a column of farmers riding their tractors and bulldozers from neighboring Westerwald to assist in the rescue efforts.
More than 1,000 police, military, firefighters and other first responders have been involved in the rescue operation in Ahrweiler, authorities have said, adding that “more powers” were still needed.
Germany facing a “unique disaster of unprecedented magnitude” earlier this week said Gerd Landsberg, the head of the German Association of Cities and Towns. The floods, caused by record rains, have swept cars, destroyed homes and caused power cuts.
The West German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate were the worst affected. The nationwide death toll has now passed 100, according to media reports citing officials. Earlier on Friday, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer issued a nationwide military disaster alert.
Chancellor Angela Merkel promised aid to flood victims. “I can tell the people: we are not leaving them alone in these difficult, terrible times. We will also help with the reconstruction.” she said.
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