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Scholz to Visit Southern German Region Battling Severe Flooding

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Southern Germany continues to battle flooding from heavy rainfall that’s disrupted transportation and pushed emergency services to their limits.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who plans to visit some of the affected regions on Monday, said recent instances of extreme weather highlight “the challenges in view of the rise in the earth’s temperature and climate change.”

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“There have been many, many flood events that have reached us at very different times,” Scholz said at the East German Economic Forum in Bad Saarow, near Berlin, on Sunday.

The latest extreme weather comes almost three years after intense rainfall in July 2021 caused devastating floods in Germany and neighboring countries. Over 240 people were killed across the region and more than 170 in Germany alone, with cleanup and reconstruction costing tens of billions of euros.

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Almost half of Germany is currently under flood warnings — including parts of the eastern states of Thuringia, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg — and those were extended to the entire Rhine River, Europe’s key trade link, on Sunday afternoon.

⛑❤ Tag und Nacht sind unsere Einsatzkräfte für euch im Einsatz – helft uns helfen. Jetzt spenden! 👉 https://t.co/SnTJeISmxf pic.twitter.com/pUpxtKNQaI
— Bay. Rotes Kreuz (@brkaktuell) June 2, 2024

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A fire fighter responding to the floods with three colleagues drowned early Sunday when their inflatable boat capsized near Pfaffenhofen, about an hour north of Munich. Another fireman went missing in the district of Günzburg, with search efforts continuing, according to the local newspaper.

Downpours have continued since Friday, with some areas seeing more rainfall totals in a day than they normally get in a month.

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Several regions of Bavaria have passed flood levels that statistically are only seen once in a century, the central portal of the nation’s flood control center said early Sunday. For the Danube River — another key shipping route — and several of its tributaries, high- or very-high water alerts remain in place.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck — also Germany’s vice chancellor — said during a visit to Bavaria that so-called 100-year floods now occur “every few years,” according to the German press agency DPA. Curbing carbon emissions should be “a top priority,” he said.

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Up to 3,000 people have been evacuated in Bavaria, with as many as 40,000 emergency services personnel deployed, said a spokesperson for the state’s interior ministry. Power usage was capped in several regions as a precautionary measure.

In Schrobenhausen, north of Munich, a woman was suspected of being trapped in her cellar, and rescue teams deployed divers and a drone in an attempt to find her, according to the Donaukurier newspaper.

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In Schwäbisch-Gmünd in Baden-Württemberg — near the Stuttgart headquarters of carmaker Mercedes-Benz — two carriages of the high-speed ICE train derailed after being hit by a landslide, the operator said. The 185 passengers were evacuated without injuries, and the driver of a car that was swiped by the 30-meter (33 yards) mudslide also survived, according to the regional broadcaster SW.

Train operator Deutsche Bahn AG — which suspended some cross-border transport to Austria and Switzerland on Saturday — said in a statement it was advised against traveling in the affected flood areas, and expects disruptions to continue until Monday. Connections to Germany’s capital Berlin and its financial hub Frankfurt were also cancelled.

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Three dams and a dike were breached, and parts of a key North-South autobahn were closed on Sunday. Landslides and heavy rain also caused disruptions in Switzerland.

Germany’s meteorological service Deutscher Wetterdienst has forecast more heavy thunderstorms in the south and in some eastern parts of the country. Rains are expected to continue throughout Monday, especially in the mountain areas.

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Photograph: Emergency services at the scene of a stuck army truck and passenger vehicle in Baar-Ebenhausen, Germany, on June 2, 2024. Photo credit: Lukas Barth/AFP/Getty Images

Copyright 2024 Bloomberg.

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