Cologne puts metro flooding plan on hold

Plans to flood a Cologne city centre metro tunnel in an attempt to prevent it collapsing after investigations revealed serious errors in its construction have been put on hold.

Cologne puts metro flooding plan on hold
Photo: DPA

Preparations had been hastily made to flood the tunnel with 14.5 million litres of ground water in order to shore up underground walls which had been poorly built.

This was deemed the only way to ensure the central Heumarkt station site did not collapse by providing counter pressure against the walls which would likely be strained by rising groundwater levels due to spring runoff.

But the plans were shelved on Saturday afternoon after it emerged that ground water levels were not rising as quickly as expected.

“We can delay the flooding without reducing the safety concept which remains complete,”

city official Guido Kahlen said.

The city has been gripped by the drama playing out among its foundations, which started a year ago with the deadly collapse of the historic archive building, after which it was revealed that corners had been cut in metro tunnel construction. In some areas more than 80 percent of the stabilising metal anchors have been found to be missing in tunnel walls.

Falsified records concerning the construction work have been uncovered, with some suggestion that organised crime could have been involved.

Although the flooding action has been called off, the fire brigade remains ready to implement the plans should it become necessary.

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Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.