Ahrweiler Rhineland-Palatinate Interior Minister Roger Lewentz (SPD) spoke on Monday of 74 people still missing. The majority of them are believed to be among the bodies that have not yet been identified.
The number of missing people in the disaster area on the Ahr River has dropped significantly. Rhineland-Palatinate Interior Minister Roger Lewentz (SPD) spoke on Monday of 74 people still missing. The majority of them are believed to be among the bodies that have not yet been identified. Of the 132 dead found so far, 68 could be identified beyond doubt, 64 bodies have not yet been identified. The dead are currently being laid out in two crematoria in Rhineland-Palatinate as well as in the Fire Brigade and Disaster Control Academy in Koblenz. What the Minister of the Interior also did not rule out is that people were swept by the current right into the flooded Rhine. He said that the water police had been alerted accordingly.
Lewentz emphasized that he is currently on the road every day in the disaster area, mostly in the very badly affected area of the Altenahr municipality. There, in addition to major damage in the villages, the entire administrative infrastructure has also been destroyed. Currently in the planning is the construction of an 'administration in a container' solution. The administration is also to be supported by personnel from other municipalities. Bundesdruckerei and other authorities are planning to use service buses from which temporary documents can be issued so that people who have lost all their papers along with their belongings can obtain the identity documents they need to present to banks or insurance companies. The upcoming federal elections in September could also be conducted in such service buses, but the people affected are not even thinking about that yet. "Many have lost everything and have only question marks in their heads with regard to their future," the interior minister said.
But the crisis also welded people together, he said, with new friendships forming with helpers from all over the country. Lewentz was particularly taken with the situation in Mayschoß, which was sealed off from the outside world for days. "I experienced a sense of citizenship there that I could not even imagine. That evokes the greatest admiration on my part ," the minister went into raptures at the daily press conference.
Among the volunteers are also many young people
Lewentz also admired the fact that there were many young people among the volunteers, and told of the youth of a Cologne church congregation who completely cleaned up a cemetery or of schoolchildren from the island of Nonnenwerth who cleared cellars of mud in Ahrweiler. The interior minister does not conceal the fact that there were also many mistakes, particularly in communication, especially at the beginning of the rescue operation. "But the Federal Republic of Germany has never experienced such a disaster operation. It was close to a tsunami," says Lewentz. That such a scale could not have been expected by anyone, he made clear once again. Nevertheless, or precisely because of this, there must now be a complete reappraisal of the events.
The conference of interior ministers will have to deal very carefully with the issue of where in the country such disasters are to be expected and how to deal with them in the future. In the meantime, the damage assessment is underway. Lewentz suspects that the overall damage will be higher than in the Elbe floods of 2013, when a national reconstruction fund was set up and the damage amounted to around eight billion euros.
Meanwhile, for two days now operations are focused on transporting waste from the affected areas to landfills primarily in the Ahrweiler and Mayen-Koblenz districts. The mountains of garbage had become considerably smaller, summed up the vice president of the ADD, Begoña Hermann. She once again pointed out the importance of the presence of the many private helpers in the area of operation and asked them to use the shuttle buses offered to reach the localities.
(Original text: Thomas Weber, Translation: Mareike Graepel)