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Death toll rises as floods hit southern Germany

Death toll rises as floods hit southern Germany

Floods Southern

Five people have died in southern Germany after heavy rainfall hit the region and caused vast floods.

Two civilians and a firefighter have been confirmed dead in Bavaria state, according to Juergen Weiss of the Bavarian Firefighters’ Association. One of the civilians was washed away in her car, while the cause of death for the second individual is not yet known.

The firefighter died when his inflatable rubber boat capsized on Saturday. In the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, two more people died in their basement, police said. Authorities believe they perished while trying to pump water out of their basement.

Six people and a 22-year-old firefighter remain missing, regional authorities say.

After the heavy rainfall, the German Armed Forces sent 800 personnel to the region to help with rescue efforts. The German weather service has forecast no more heavy rainfall.

The River Danube is the center of concern for rescue efforts, with high water levels passing through Regensburg on Tuesday morning following an evacuation effort the evening before. Parts of the Bavarian old town of Passau have been flooded by the Danube. On Tuesday morning, the Danube level reached 31.5 feet (9.6 meters) in Passau, according to the Bavarian State Environmental Office, almost double the normal level for this time of year.

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Three rivers meet in the historic university town, where authorities have stopped motorized traffic and emptied underground car parks. The firefighters’ association said more than 52,000 emergency workers, most of them volunteers, have been deployed in Bavaria.

Flood emergency response in Bavaria

But it added the vast area of flooding posed challenges for them. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said during a visit to the flood areas on Monday that increased flooding was an indication of climate change. We are very clear that this is not just an event that has been happening for centuries, but that there are already more and more cases where we have to deal with disasters, floods in particular,” Scholz said.

Economy Minister and Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck also noted Sunday that climate change is causing more severe weather events. “We are seeing that the frequency of these events is increasing significantly. Record floods occur every few years–record rainfall every few years,” Habeck told broadcaster N-TV.

Deadly floods hit Western Europe in 2021, with at least 220 people killed between July 12 and 15, mainly in Germany. Analysis of that event by climate scientists found that the flooding was made between 1.2 and nine times more likely by human-caused climate change. Other areas of Europe have also been affected by heavy rainfall in recent days.

Firefighters near the city of Udine in Northeastern Italy said Sunday they recovered the bodies of two young women who were swept away by strong currents in the Natisone River, which was swollen by the precipitation. Firefighters say they are looking for the body of a third person. Slovenia was hit by flooding Monday evening.

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The Radenci and Gornja Radgona municipalities, near the Austrian border, were the worst affected in the country, according to public broadcaster RTV SLO. Likewise, flooding and landslides hit Croatia’s Krapina-Zagorje county, in the north of the country on the border with Slovenia, following heavy rainfall on Monday, according to public news agency HINA.

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