ontario news watch

The Latest: Germany anticipates costly hit from flood damage

The Latest on deadly flooding in Europe:

BERLIN — German officials said Friday that the economic damage from the flooding in country’s west will be immense.

More than half of the 53 counties in North Rhine-Westphalia state were affected by the floods, which damaged hundreds of buildings. At least 43 people died in the state.

North Rhine-Westphalia Gov. Armin Laschet said the floods had “literally pulled the ground from beneath many people’s feet. They lost their houses, farms or businesses.”

Federal and state officials have pledged financial aid to the affected areas of Germany, which also include the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, where at least 60 people died and entire villages were destroyed.

Several religious organizations have called for donations to help residents who lost everything in the floods.

The damage to Germany’s economy is also expected to be severe. Several factories were flooded and key infrastructure, including parts of the A1 highway from Cologne to Bonn, were swept away.


THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Authorities in the southern Dutch town of Venlo are evacuating a hospital due to the looming threat of flooding.

Emergency coordinators said some 200 patients will be transported from the VieCuri hospital to other hospitals Friday afternoon as a precaution “to get ahead of any possible flooding.”

The hospital is close to the banks of the swollen Maas river that flows into the Netherlands from Belgium, where flooding has caused widespread damage in and near the city of Liege. The river is called the Meuse in Belgium.

The hospital will remain closed until Monday.

Flooding in the Netherlands’ southern Limburg province has caused damage to homes and businesses in several towns and villages and sparked evacuations but has not caused any major injuries or deaths.

BERLIN — Operators of an assisted living facility for people with disabilities in western Germany said Friday that the number of residents who died in flooding has increased to 12.

German news agency dpa quoted the chief executive of the Lebenshilfe association in Rhineland-Palatinate state saying only one of the 13 people missing from the facility had been found alive.

Matthias Mandos said a staff member managed to move several residents of the home in the town of Sinzig to the first floor as waters from the nearby Ahr river rushed into the building.

By the time the staff member tried to get others to safety, it was too late, Mandos said.

Psychologists were on hand to help traumatized employees and residents, he added.


BERLIN — German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he is “stunned” by the “devastating effects” of the flooding across parts of western Germany that has killed more than 100 people and left hundreds missing.

Steinmeier pledged the German government’s support to the families of those killed and to cities and towns facing significant damage.

“In the hour of need, our country stands together,” Steinmeier said in a statement Friday afternoon. “It’s important that we show solidarity for those from whom the flood has taken everything.”

Calling the events a “tragedy,” Steinmeier said he had been in touch with state and local officials in the affected areas and that they used “shocking words” to describe the situations on the ground.

The crisis, he said, underscores the impact of climate change and the need for forceful action to combat it.

“Only if we decisively take up the fight against climate change will we be able to limit the extreme weather conditions we are now experiencing,” Steinmeier said.


COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark’s foreign minister called the devastating floods across parts of Germany and Belgium that have killed at least 100 people “utterly heartbreaking.”

Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod wrote on Twitter that “Europe must and will stand together in this tragedy.”

He said Friday that his thoughts were with the victims and their families.


BERLIN — At least 100 people have died in devastating floods across parts of western Germany and Belgium as search and rescue operations continue for hundreds more still unaccounted for.

Authorities in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate said 50 people had died there, including at least nine residents of an assisted living facility for people with disabilities. In neighboring North Rhine-Westphalia state officials put the death toll at 43, but warned that the figure could increase.

Rescuers rushed Friday to help people trapped in their homes in the town of Erftstadt, southwest of Cologne. Regional authorities said several people had died after their houses collapsed due to the ground sinking.

Speaking to German broadcaster n-tv, county administrator Frank Rock said that authorities had no precise number yet for how many had died.

“One has to assume that under the circumstances some people didn’t manage to escape,” he said.

Authorities said late Thursday that about 1,300 people in Germany were still listed missing, but cautioned that the high figure could be due to duplication of data and difficulties reaching people because of disrupted roads and phone connections.

In a provisional tally, the Belgian death toll rose to 12, with 5 people still missing, local authorities and media reported early Friday.

The Associated Press