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Germany: six dead and 30 missing in collapsing houses

  • Houses collapse after river Ahr burst its banks south of Bonn
  • Transport interrupted, navigation on parts of the Rhine suspended
  • More heavy rain was expected in southwestern Germany, on the upper part More rain expected Thursday and Friday

SCHULD, Germany, July 15 (Reuters) – Four people died Thursday and many were missing as flooding in western Germany caused at least six homes to collapse, bringing the number of dead in two days of severe storms.

Police said four people had died and 30 were missing around the Ahrweiler wine center, south of Bonn, after the river Ahr, which flows into the Rhine, burst its banks and brought down houses.

About 50 of them were stranded on rooftops and more houses were at risk of collapsing.

A local man fled after a flood warning was issued at 2 a.m. (0000 GMT).

“I have never experienced a disaster where the river overflowed in such a short time,” the 63-year-old man, whose name has not been given, told SWR television.

Video footage from nearby Bad Neuenahr showed cars and trucks strewn through the streets and a sport utility vehicle perched on a fence, a road blocked by wreckage and fallen trees as the floodwaters receded Thursday morning .

A police spokesperson in Koblenz said firefighters and rescue workers have been widely deployed. “We do not yet have a very precise picture as the rescue measures are continuing,” the spokesperson said.

Malu Dreyer, prime minister of the Rhineland-Palatinate state that is home to Ahrweiler, said the region has been hit hard by the floods.

“It’s a disaster! There are dead, missing and many people still in danger. All of our emergency services are on duty 24 hours a day and risk their lives,” said Dreyer. “I offer my condolences to the victims of this catastrophic flood.”

Dreyer said she would attend the flood scene on Thursday and, in a statement, described some of the dangerous rescue operations. A police helicopter was deployed Wednesday evening to tow people to safety.

TWO DEAD FIRE FIGHTERS

Two firefighters died on Wednesday in the Sauerland region in neighboring North Rhine-Westphalia, police said. DPA news agency said one drowned and a second collapsed after a rescue operation.

State Prime Minister Armin Laschet, who is the Conservative candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor in the September general election, was due to visit the flood-affected town of Hagen on Thursday morning.

Rail and road transport were disrupted and navigation on parts of the Rhine, an important commercial artery, was suspended.

More heavy rains were expected in southwestern Germany, on the German upper Rhine, on Thursday and Friday, the German weather service said.

Written by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Raissa Kasolowsky

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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