German floods: Several feared dead after landslide south of Cologne

Several people have died in a landslide in Erftstadt-Blessem in Germany's North Rhine Westphalia state, local officials said on Friday, after dozens were killed by flooding in the country in recent days. 

German floods: Several feared dead after landslide south of Cologne
A photo shared by the Cologne district government on Twitter on Friday shows the disaster situation in Erftstadt-Blessem. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Rhein-Erft-Kreis | Rhein-Erft-Kreis

“Houses were largely swept away by the water and some collapsed. Several people are missing,” according to a tweet from the Cologne local authority about the landslide.

“There are fatalities,” confirmed a spokeswoman for the district government of Cologne to German newspaper Welt on Friday. No information could be given yet on the exact number of people who have died. 

The local authority said in the tweet that emergency calls were coming from houses, but “rescue is not possible in many cases”.

“Our disaster control team is on the scene,” they said. 

German emergency responders were on Friday still searching for hundreds of missing people after the worst floods in living memory killed dozens of people in the country’s western regions.

READ ALSO: Dozens dead after flooding disaster in western Germany

Massive landslides

Aerial photographs distributed by the district government and photos taken by DPA photographers show landslides of enormous proportions in Erfstadt-Blessem, which is around 50 minutes from Cologne. Houses have been swept away while cars are lying in huge holes in the ground.

An aerial photograph shows the catastrophic situation in Erftstadt-Blessem. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Rhein-Erft-Kreis | Rhein-Erft-Kreis

After the extremely heavy rain on Wednesday resulting in flash floods, there were evacuations in several localities.

“We are currently experiencing a crisis, the dimensions of which we are not yet able to assess today,” district administrator Frank Rock (CDU) had said on Thursday.

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Germany set for scorching temperatures up to 30C

After days of summery weather, temperatures in Germany are set to peak at around 30C this week before a cooler spell over the weekend.

Germany set for scorching temperatures up to 30C

After a long spell of sunny weather, most parts of Germany could see summer arrive early this week with clear blue skies and sweltering temperatures – but the hot weather may not last long, according to meteorologists.

Heat and sunshine should last through the middle of the week but suddenly give way to cooler temperatures over the weekend, the German Weather Service (DWD) predicts.

On Tuesday, most regions see temperatures in the mid to high 20s and a continuation of the dry weather of the past week. In the northeast, including Berlin, the mercury could reach 28C, and temperatures are likely to be between 22C and 28C across western and central areas.

Those in higher altitude regions of the south and those along the north coast should be the only people needing their rain jackets as this part of the country could see scattered showers and clouds, according to DWD.

Wednesday is the day to plan a lake trip as this is likely to be the hottest day of the week. 

Most parts of the country will stay sunny and dry throughout the day and people can expect summery temperatures of between 24C and 30C.

For those on the north coast, it’s likely to be a little chillier, with temperatures of around 15C and partly overcast skies.

Thursday and Friday are likely to bring with them cooler temperatures, with the hot spell giving way to scattered showers and clouds in many regions over the weekend.

On Saturday, southern regions will see highs up of up to 23C while the northern regions will slip down to 18C during the day.

But anyone planning to be out and about on Saturday evening in the south should bring a warm jacket as the mercury could drop as low as 4C. 

Sunny weather Standbad Lübars

A woman enjoys the warm weather at Standbad Lübars in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Britta Pedersen

Northern regions ‘too dry’ 

Though most people have been thrilled to see a warm burst of sunshine in the middle of spring, climate experts have been voicing concern about the uneven rainfall across the country.

In an analysis published on the DWD website, the meteorologists claimed that the northern and eastern parts of Germany have been “clearly too dry” in the past weeks.

“A first glance at the current map already reveals that the regional differences of April have continued in May,” they wrote. “In almost all regions of the northern half and in some parts of the centre, hardly more than 10 and in many places not even 5 litres of rain per square-metre fell in the first days of May.”

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

Though experts had predicted low rainfall, the first 10 days of May have been even drier than predicted.

The lack of rainfall has caused groundwater to dry up significantly, sparking fears of forest fires and drought over summer.

Though more rainfall could come at the end of May, the Weather Channel’s Jan Schenk believes the probability of an overly dry summer is now “very high”.

Schenk believes that predictions for rainfall could have overestimated the amount of precipitation by up to 50 litres per square metre in some areas. This is a reason for households to start saving water now, he told HNA