Merkel expresses sympathy for victims of mass flooding in Germany

Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her sympathy Thursday to the families of those who have died in devastating floods that have turned large swathes of southern Germany into disaster areas, as a sixth victim was found late in the day.

"The federal government is grieving for those who received help too late," Merkel said at a press conference in Berlin.

The chancellor said the response to the flood waters, which swept across southern states of Bavaria and Rhineland-Palatinate as well hitting parts of North Rhine Westphalia in the west, demonstrated how "we stick together in Germany".

About 3,500 homes in Bavaria are now without electricity as a result of the floods, which have reached up to 1 metre in height in many towns across the state, police said.

Merkel spoke before police said that a 65-year-old man in the Bavarian town of Simbach am Inn had become the latest victim of the severe flooding in southern Germany after massive storms triggered a sudden rise in water levels.

Earlier in the day a 75-year-old man was found drowned in the same town.

The bodies of three of the other victims were also found in a flooded house in the town on Wednesday.

Another victim was recovered later in a stream near the town of Julbach, also in south-eastern Bavaria, police said.

There have been dramatic scenes across the affected regions as cars, trees and furniture have been ripped away by the floods, which have swamped many houses and forced inhabitants to flee to rooftops where they were winched to safety by helicopters.

Several campers also had be to rescued by helicopters from a campsite in the small Rhineland-Palatinate town of Altenahr following a sudden rise in local rivers, police said.

Some of the campers were winched from the roofs of their campervans, which were surrounded by surging flood waters with the scale and speed of the flooding catching many people off guard.

German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said the government's goal was to rebuild and repair the region's infrastructure as quickly as possible after roads, bridges and railway lines were damaged or destroyed by the mass of water.

Officials in Bavaria warned that new storms are likely to lead to a further rise in water levels across the region.

Ministers have promised immediate financial help for people affected by the flooding as officials start to count the cost of flooding, which is likely to exceed 10 million euros (11.2 million dollars).

Germany has been hit by a string of violent thunderstorms over the last week, triggering widespread floods in low-lying parts of the nation, while more than 30 people have been struck by lightning.

Last update: Fri, 03/06/2016 - 10:16
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