Further flash flooding devastated cities in Austria, Bavaria and East Germany, as favorite to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel was forced to apologize after appearing to shed light on a catastrophic situation that claimed the lives of more than 150 people.
The Alpine district of Berchtesgadener Land declared a state of emergency on Saturday evening after heavy rains caused flooding in the streets and landslides, killing at least one.
Across the Austrian border, a swollen stream of rainwater flooded the historic center of the town of Hallein, south of Salzburg, trapping residents in their apartment buildings, overturning cars and flooding the shops on the ground floor. -of the road. The city’s mayor, Alexander Stangassinger, told broadcaster ORF that the floods had caused millions of euros in damage.
Several towns in the hilly eastern German region of Saxon Switzerland, south-east of Dresden, were also cut off and rail services to the Czech Republic cut off. Precipitation in the Kirnitzsch and Sebnitz tributary watershed exceeded 100 liters per square meter in 24 hours, authorities reported, causing the waters to break river banks.
On Wednesday and Thursday, a near-stationary low-pressure weather system over parts of western Germany caused heavy rains and flooding that claimed the lives of at least 110 people in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate and 45 others in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).
Extreme weather events, which scientists say occur more frequently due to climate change, hit Germany two months before federal elections that will determine Merkel’s successor, who resigns after 16 years in power.
To put himself in his shoes, Tory leader Armin Laschet, the leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), interrupted a party meeting on Thursday to travel to flood-affected areas in NRW, the western state people he represents as prime minister.
While visiting the devastated town of Erftstadt, where an eroded gravel quarry had engulfed cars, pieces of road and entire buildings, Laschet was caught on Saturday sharing jokes with passers-by while German President Frank -Walter Steinmeier, addressed solemnly to the cameras.
Lars Klingbeil, the general secretary of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), called Laschet’s behavior “lacking in decency and appalling”. Broadcaster WDR commented that every election campaign offered a few moments “in which the candidates show their true colors”, adding: “Today is such a time”.
Laschet tweeted an apology on Saturday afternoon. “The plight of those affected, whom we have heard about in many conversations, is important to us,” he wrote. “So I regret all the more the impression that emerged from a conversation situation. It was inappropriate and I’m sorry.
Greens candidate for chancellor Annalena Baerbock, who struggled to focus the national conversation on ecological issues after a good start to the campaign, cut short her vacation to visit the affected areas but refused to be accompanied by the hurry.
Merkel is due to travel to one of the two hardest-hit regions in western Germany on Sunday, the village of Schuld in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate.