Germans count cost of deadly floods

A huge pile of damaged property bears witness to the devastation wrought by last week's deadly floods.

As Germany's interior minister rejected criticism that the government failed to warn people, on a tour of stricken areas on Monday (July 19).

Including this dam, which was at risk of breach, forcing mass evacuations.

The floods that tore through Western Europe killed more than 160 people in Germany alone, making it the country's worst natural disaster in almost six decades.

Horst Seehofer said flood warnings were up to local authorities because they require local knowledge.

An expert on flooding at the UK's Reading University, Hannah Cloke, said the scale of the death and destruction in Europe showed the need for a new approach.

"I could see this information at the beginning of the week and it looked very serious, it looked like a very worrying flood. So I was very surprised really at the scale of the deaths and destruction because from my point of view it looked like we could forecast this event coming. So something is going wrong in the communication chain of these warnings. Something is going wrong and people don't really understand the risk they're in."

The European floods began on Wednesday (July 14), and have mainly hit the German states of Rhineland Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, as well as parts of Belgium.

The DWD weather service warned last Monday that heavy rain was heading to western Germany and that flooding was very likely.

On Wednesday morning it said on Twitter that the risk of flooding was increasing and called on the population to seek guidance from local authorities.

The German government is readying a relief package for hard-hit communities.

One government source told Reuters immediate relief worth around 400 million euros, or $340 million, was under discussion.

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