Erfstadt In Erftstadt in North Rhine-Westphalia, cars and trucks traveling on a highway were taken by surprise when floodwaters overcame them. But no bodies have been found there so far. Still, the number of flooding fatalities continues to rise.
A spokesman for the Rhine-Erft district reported that no bodies had been found as of Sunday evening during recovery efforts on the flooded federal highway 265 near Erftstadt in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Divers from the German Lifesaving Society (DLRG) were deployed to check the total of 28 cars and trucks that had been submerged by the floodwaters. German armed forces were deployed with armored tanks. On Friday, it had still been unclear as to whether all the occupants had made it out of their vehicles when they were taken by surprise by the massive rush of water.
Throughout North Rhine-Westphalia, the number of dead in connection with the flood catastrophe has risen to 45, two more than on Friday. This was reported by a spokeswoman for the NRW Ministry of the Interior on Saturday evening.
In some places where the devastating floods occurred, the water is now slowly receding - but the number of dead is rising and rising. By Saturday afternoon, 110 deaths had been reported in one of the worst hit areas of Ahrweiler in Rhineland-Palatinate. Police in Koblenz say 670 people were injured in the Ahrweiler district. Two days after the disaster, people are still unaccounted for.
More than 150 bodies recovered so far
With nearly 100 people now confirmed dead in Rhineland-Palatinate, the total number of victims in the flood catastrophe in western Germany climbs to at least 155. In NRW, four firefighters are among the dead, according to the Association of Firefighters (VdF). There were two deaths in Altena and Werdohl in the Sauerland region, followed by the death of a firefighter from Nettersheim (Euskirchen district) and one from Rheinbach (Rhein-Sieg district).
Among the dead in Rhineland-Palatinate are twelve residents of a care home for disabled people in Sinzig. "The water reached the ceiling of the ground floor within a minute," said the managing director of the state association of Lebenshilfe Rhineland-Palatinate, Matthias Mandos. He said the night watchman still managed to get several residents to the second floor of the home. "When he went to get the next ones, he was already too late."
Thousands of rescue workers were deployed in the Eifel region and other areas, and more than 23,000 people helped out in North Rhine-Westphalia. In addition to the fire department and the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW), this also included officers from the state police, the federal police, the German armed forces, and rescue workers from Hesse, Lower Saxony, and Hamburg.
While the situation in many areas of North Rhine-Westphalia on the left bank of the Rhine remained fraught on Saturday, the water levels in other river basins fell significantly. Only in the area around the Ruhr, some of the water levels still reached the lowest warning level, according to the situation report of the State Environment Agency (Lanuv). The Rhine flood near Cologne peaked late Friday night, after which the water level fell again. According to the early warning forecast of the State Office for the Environment of Rhineland-Palatinate, the flood danger is also decreasing.
But the danger has not yet been averted everywhere. At the Steinbach Dam near Euskirchen, a breach of the dam continues to pose a risk despite the falling water level. The dam is "extremely unstable", large parts of the structure have broken away, the district government of Cologne reported on Saturday. There is still an acute risk of flooding for the villages below the dam. Further evacuations are therefore planned.
Extent of the destruction in the Ahr valley becomes visible
In many localities in that state of Rhineland-Palatinate, the electricity and telephone networks did not work on Saturday either. The main focus of the disaster in the state is in the district of Ahrweiler. There, bridges are also destroyed. Train traffic continues to be massively impaired because of the flooding. In the Ahr valley, several roads are closed or no longer passable.
The situation in Wassenberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, on the border with the Netherlands, remains unclear: There, the district of Ophoven was evacuated after a dam on the River Rur broke, and around 700 people were brought to safety. The streets of the district were under water.
In the Ehrang district of Trier, people cleaned up as best they could on Saturday. Some residents were the first to return to their homes. According to the city, 670 houses were affected, with almost everything in the basements and ground floors destroyed.
Orig. text: dpa