Floods in Europe: Divers search for bodies as German city calculates cost of unprecedented flood

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Floods in Europe: Divers search for bodies as German city calculates cost of unprecedented flood


From a bridge in one of the worst flood-hit towns in Germany, we saw the military moving heavy lifting equipment on the ring road below.

Cars and trucks were visible in the water covering the road, but after a hot, dry day, the level had dropped enough for a search and clearance operation to begin.

Divers moved around the vehicles, searching inside for some of the hundreds of people still missing in Germany.

The fear was that some people died in their vehicles when the floodwaters hit Erftstadt.

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There are fears that divers and rescue teams may find no more bodies as the waters recede in Erftstadt

While we were there no casualties were found, but there are still large areas to search here.

Much of the city – where some houses collapsed in the flooding – is still a no-go area.

A vast chasm has appeared in one neighborhood, making it too dangerous for people to return to the properties they have been forced to leave.

We meet some of them lining up to receive payments of € 200 (£ 171) to buy basic necessities. They left their homes at high speed and took little or nothing with them.

A man, Peter Baer, ​​tells me that the three houses next to him have been totally demolished. When he left his house was still standing but he has no idea what condition it is in.

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Much of the town of Erftstadt is a no-go zone

Momika Preiter, who is online with her daughter, says the flood waters came in violently. She wanted to stay upstairs, but the fire department knocked on her door to tell her “come out, your life is in danger”.

While waiting for their emergency money, staff at a local restaurant are handing out free pizzas.

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Flood relief arrives for German victims
Peter Baer told us he doesn't know if his house is still standing
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Peter Baer told us he doesn’t know if his house is still standing

They tell us that they just want to help and that there is a real feeling of being together here.

But there is also a common feeling of fear. May it rain heavily again and the floodwaters return.

The people of Ahrweiler begin to clear up
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Residents of the town of Ahrweiler are starting to brighten up

The fear also of what happened to their houses, their streets, their neighbors.

So many people are still missing in western Germany and only now that the waters are receding can intensive searches begin in the submerged areas.

A pizza was offered to those queuing for cash distributions
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A pizza was offered to those queuing for cash distributions

Authorities have warned that the death toll is sure to rise.

And many here worry about whether they recognize a name or notice that a face is missing in evacuation centers.

This is a difficult thing to think about for people who have already been through so much.

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