German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday toured villages devastated by recent record-breaking rains and flooding in Western Europe, which have lead to at least 180 fatalities.
Merkel went to the village of Schuld, located near the Ahr River, which overflowed and destroyed dozens of homes Wednesday evening. So far, 112 deaths have been reported in the Ahrweiler area near the village, which received 8 inches of rain in only nine hours this week, according to the European Severe Weather Database.
“It is shocking — I would almost say that the German language barely has words for the devastation that has been wreaked,” Merkel said at a press conference.
At least 46 people have died, including four firefighters, in the neighboring North Rhine-Westphalia state. Another 31 deaths have been reported in Belgium.
The damage caused by the flooding will require more than 300 million euros ($354 million) to resolve damages, as Merkel’s Cabinet is set to approve a medium-term financial aid program this coming Wednesday.
“Thankfully, Germany is a country that can manage this financially,” the chancellor said, adding that “we must get faster in the battle against climate change.”
Scientists have long speculated there is a link between extreme weather and climate change. The European Union and Germany have been working on implementing policies aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The EU estimates that if its measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions are fully implemented, emissions reduced by the year 2030 would be “around 45% lower compared to 1990 levels when excluding land use emissions and absorptions, and around 47% lower when including land use.”
“One flood isn’t the example of climate change, but if we look at the loss events of recent years, decades, then they are simply more frequent than they were previously — so we must make a great effort,” Merkel said.
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Original Author: Kaelan Deese
Original Location: Merkel tours Western European flood zones as death toll climbs above 180