Failed alerts during the July floods in Germany?

Did the warning and evacuation systems for local residents work well during the deadly floods in western Germany in mid-July? This is the question before the German courts with a view to initiating a possible criminal process, which suspects failures.

The Koblenz prosecutor’s office “is examining the opening of a preliminary investigation on suspicion of unintentional homicides and injuries,” according to a press release from this competent prosecutor’s office for the Rhineland-Palatinate region, the region most affected by the floods.

Prosecutors will examine the advisability of initiating proceedings in relation to “possibly neglected or delayed warnings or evacuations” of the inhabitants of the Ahr Valley, a region whose cities have been devastated by floods.

On the basis of this audit, which will include “the numerous press articles, the conclusions of the ongoing investigations into the deaths as well as the police reports from the night of the disaster”, the prosecution will determine “whether they give rise to a first suspicion of crimes. ”.

A controversy followed the catastrophe of July 14 and 15, related to the anticipation of meteorological events by the authorities, the operation of the warning system and evacuation measures.

These floods killed at least 186 people in Germany, including 138 in the Rhineland-Palatinate region alone, where 26 people are still wanted, according to a new report released Monday.

The floods also affected Belgium, where 38 people died. Also in this country, an investigating judge investigates a possible criminal responsibility, in relation to the lack of caution and warning.

In its weekend edition, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung He said the Ahrweiler district, west of Bonn, did not immediately react to warnings from the Regional Environment Agency.

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According to the newspaper, this body had informed the local authorities of the risk of major floods on the afternoon of July 14, further worsening its forecast in the early morning. The district declared a state of disaster around 11 at night, ordering a partial evacuation, when the water had already risen in the towns and houses.

District authorities deny these allegations. “At the moment, no one in the federal government, the region or the district can seriously answer questions about responsibilities,” said district councilor Jürgen Pföhler this weekend. Considering it necessary to examine the chain of events “very carefully”, he considered “that none of the existing warning and alarm systems was technically prepared for this unprecedented tsunami.”

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