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Floods easing in Germany's Saarland but situation remains serious

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Floods easing in Germany's Saarland but situation remains serious
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (C) and Saarland State premier Anke Rehlinger (R) speak with residents as they visit the flood-stricken village of Kleinblittersdorf in Saarland on May 18, 2024, after heavy rains caused flooding. (Photo by Iris Maria Maurer / AFP)

Enormous amounts of rain in Saarland and neighbouring Rhineland-Palatinate on Friday and Saturday night caused flooding and landslides, but water levels were slowly retreating on Sunday making the extent of the damage more visible.

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“The flood situation is continuing to ease,” the Saarland Ministry of the Interior said in a post on Facebook on Saturday night, adding that there were still a few focal points where emergency forces were still working. 

“It is simply too early for both clean-up work and assessments of the damage,” a spokeswoman for the Trier-Saarburg district told German news agency DPA. Drones have now been requested to get an overview of the extent of the damage from above.

The Saarland state capital Saarbrücken, the disaster control authority, has lifted the emergency situation put in place in response to the severe floods. Urgent rescue and safety measures have been completed and the water levels have continued to decline, the city's press office said on Saturday evening.

But the damage caused by the rain and subsequent flooding was extensive.

In the state capital Saarbrücken, the city motorway was under water and had to be closed, a coal-fired power plant in Saarland was also flooded, and several people across the state had to be evacuated. In Rußhütte, a district of Saarbrücken, evacuees were brought to safety by amphibious vehicles and boats. 

READ ALSO: Germany cleans up after massive flooding in state of Saarland

There was also flooding in neighbouring Rhineland-Palatinate – cellars and streets both there and in Saarland were flooded and many smaller streams and rivers burst their banks.

Rail traffic also came to a temporary standstill, but resumed on Saturday and most of the closed roads have also reopened.

Despite the enormous volumes of water – the weather service measured more than 100 litres of rain per square meter in less than 24 hours in some places – there were no deaths and very few injuries.

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“There are currently reports of one injured person,” said the spokesman. They had an accident during a rescue operation and had to be resuscitated. “The person is being treated in hospital; reports on their status are currently unknown.”

On Saturday, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Saarland Minister-President Anke Rehlinger visited the area. Wearing Wellington boots, the two SPD politicians spoke to those affected, including in the village of Kleinblittersdorf.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) meanwhile promised help: "The government is supporting Saarland in particular with strong forces to protect human lives after the severe floods and limit the destruction caused by the water as far as possible," she said.

 

 

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