Flood-battered Germany prepares billions to rebuild
Published: Jul 21, 2021 06:08 PM
Photo taken on July 16, 2021 shows vehicles damaged in flood disaster in Schuld, Germany.(Photo: Xinhua)

Photo taken on July 16, 2021 shows vehicles damaged in flood disaster in Schuld, Germany.(Photo: Xinhua)

 Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet will huddle Wednesday to approve a massive relief package to rebuild German regions destroyed in historic flooding and better protect them in future.

A week into the region's worst flooding disaster in living memory, which has killed at least 169 people in Germany and 200 in Europe, the right-left "grand coalition" government will unblock aid for demolished homes, businesses and vital infrastructure.

With the damage estimated in the billions of euros, Merkel told reporters on a visit to the badly hit medieval town of Bad Muenstereifel on Tuesday that Berlin would come through to help in the short and long term.

"This was flooding that surpassed our imagination when you see the destruction it wrought," Merkel told reporters after touring what the Bild daily called the "apocalyptic" wreckage of the 17,000-strong community in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) state.

She said ministers would clear the way for emergency assistance for citizens who had suffered losses and do everything in their power "so that the money is with people fast."

"I hope it will be a matter of days," she said, noting that she had met local victims "left with nothing but the clothes on their backs."

The stopgap aid will be supplemented by a longer-term reconstruction fund financed by the federal government and "solidarity contributions" from all 16 of Germany's regional states, she said. 

Merkel was joined on the visit by NRW premier Armin Laschet, head of her Christian Democratic Union and the frontrunner in the race to succeed her as chancellor after a general election on September 26.

Laschet called for the rescue funds to reach victims "unbureaucratically and as fast as possible," pledging to double Berlin's assistance with a cash injection from his own state budget.

He warned it could take "months if not years to rebuild."

A total of 121 people are now confirmed to have died in the flooding in Rhineland-Palatinate state, with at least 47 victims in NRW and one in Bavaria.

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