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Flood disaster: Public prosecutor's office in Koblenz launches investigations against district chief of Ahrweiler

Flood disaster : Public prosecutor's office in Koblenz launches investigations against district chief of Ahrweiler

The public prosecutor's office in Koblenz has initiated investigations against the district chief of Ahrweiler, Jürgen Pföhler. The prosecutors announced the initial suspicion of negligent homicide and negligent bodily harm on the evening of the flood night.

The public prosecutor's office in Koblenz has opened an investigation against Jürgen Pföhler (CDU), district chief of Ahrweiler, a district particularly badly hit by the flooding disaster. On Friday, the prosecuting authorities announced the initial suspicion of negligent homicide and negligent bodily harm on the evening of the flood on 14 July. The initial suspicion was directed against the district chief because, according to the law, he “may have been in charge of the operation and had sole decision-making authority”.

The proceedings are also directed against another member of the crisis management team who, according to current findings, had “at least part of the time taken over command of the operation”, the public prosecutor's office explained. According to the prosecutors, there had been “sufficient factual indications” that danger warnings and possibly evacuations should have been made from about 8.30 pm on 14 July. “This - according to the initial suspicion - was obviously either not carried out, or not carried out with the required clarity or only carried out belatedly, such that it could amount to negligence.”

On 14 and 15 July, extremely heavy rain triggered a flood wave on the Ahr river in the north of Rhineland-Palatinate and submerged large parts of the valley. Around 42,000 people have been affected by the consequences of the flooding. The death toll in the Ahr valley has now reached 141, and 17 people are still missing.

The public prosecutor's office in Koblenz further announced an initial suspicion that corresponding negligence had at least been “(co-)causal” for part of the deaths and the resulting personal injuries. An evaluation of the investigation procedures into the deaths of the flood victims showed that the deaths had mainly occurred downstream from Ahrbrück, with the main focal point in the town of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler.

Before launching the investigations, the public prosecutor's office set up an email address to collect evidence about the flood disaster on the Ahr river. The issue at the heart of the matter is whether the warnings were given too late. District chief Pföhler had actually invited the public to a press conference on the current situation on Friday morning, but this was cancelled at short notice.

Beforehand the district of Ahrweiler had cancelled a press conference on Friday at short notice. The reason given by the district's press office was that district chief Pföhler was unable to attend due to “scheduling reasons”.

(Original text: dpa/ga, Translation: Caroline Kusch)