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Southern Germany hit by devastating floods

By Julian Shea in London | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-06-03 00:41

A general view taken with a drone shows the flood-affected area at the Paar river following heavy rainfalls in Gotteshofen near Ingolstadt, Germany, June 2, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

Several districts in the southern Germany region of Bavaria have declared emergencies because of high water levels, after downpours led to the death of a volunteer firefighter. The national weather forecasting service warning of more heavy rains to come.

The 42-year-old volunteer firefighter was one of four people whose rescue boat overturned near the town of Pfaffenhofen, as they attempted to reach local residents who were stranded by the waters. The other three made it to safety, but the body of the fourth man was found in the water hours later.

"I am saddened by the death of a firefighter in Pfaffenhofen. My thoughts are with his family and colleagues," German Chancellor Olaf Scholz wrote on social media platform X.

"We owe thanks and respect to the rescue workers and helpers who are fighting the consequences of the floods in many places."

Regional premier Markus Soder added that "all of us are grieving … his deployment and efforts to help other people will always be remembered."

A 43-year-old woman was also reported missing after becoming trapped in her basement by rapidly rising waters, as meteorologists warned that more storms hitting already flooded areas on Sunday could see rainfall of 70 liters per square meter.

This comes after the town of Kisslegg in Baden-Wurttemberg, close to the border with Italy, reportedly experienced rainfall of 130 liters per square meter on Friday, in an area where the monthly average is 118 liters.

The picture was similar in the Bavarian town of Bad Worishofen, with 129 liters falling in 24 hours in a place where the monthly average is 101 liters.

National rail services were disrupted, with landslides causing two train carriages on a high-speed route between Stuttgart and Augsburg to be derailed.

Services between Munich and Berlin and Munich and the Swiss city of Zurich were also cancelled.

The extreme weather conditions come less than two weeks before the start of the Euro 2024 soccer

championships, with matches being staged in cities across Germany, including Stuttgart in the southwest of the country, and Munich in the south-east corner, which hosts the opening game Germany v Scotland on June 14.

In neighboring Switzerland, there were also reports of heightened flood risks and landslides caused by torrential rain, with around 150 reports of damage having been received, but as yet no injuries or loss of life. A fortnight earlier, the northern Italian cities of Padua and Vicenza were also left under water by extreme rainfall.

"Extreme events are becoming more frequent and will increase with the increase of global warming," Marco Marani, a climate change expert from the University of Padua, told the Corriere del Veneto newspaper.


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