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Deadly floods engulf Germany

June 4, 2024

(CNN) — Five people have died and thousands were evacuated in southern Germany after heavy rainfall hit the region and caused vast floods, prompting warnings from senior officials that the climate crisis was set to worsen extreme weather in the country.

Two people and a firefighter have been confirmed dead in Bavaria state, Juergen Weiss of the Bavarian Firefighters’ Association told CNN.

One of those killed was washed away in her car, while the cause of death for the second civilian is not yet known.

The firefighter died when his inflatable rubber boat capsised on Saturday.

Meanwhile, two more people died in their basement in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, police said. Authorities believe they perished while trying to pump water out of their basement.

Six people and a 22-year-old firefighter remain missing, regional authorities say.

After heavy rainfall, the German Armed Forces has sent 800 personnel to the region to help with rescue efforts. The German weather service has forecast no more heavy rainfall.

The River Danube is the centre of concern for rescue efforts, with high levels of water passing through the city of Regensburg on Tuesday morning, following an evacuation effort the evening before.

On Tuesday morning, the level of the Danube had reached 31.5 feet (9.6 metres) in Passau, according to the Bavarian State Environmental Office, almost double the normal level for this time of year.

Three rivers meet in the historic university town, where authorities have stopped motorised traffic and emptied underground car parks.

In Bavaria, more than 52,000 emergency workers have been deployed, most of them volunteers, the firefighters’ association said.

But it added the vast area of flooding posed challenges for them.

Parts of the Bavarian old town of Passau have been flooded by the Danube. (Photo: Armin Weigel/dpa/AP via CNN Newsource)

Climate change to blame

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said during a visit to the flood areas on Monday that increased flooding was an indication of climate change.

“We are very clear about the fact that this is not just an event that has been happening for centuries, but that there are already more and more cases where we have to deal with disasters, floods in particular,” Scholz said.

Economy Minister and Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck also noted Sunday that climate change is causing more severe weather events.

“What we are seeing is that the frequency of these events is increasing significantly. Record floods occur every few years … record rainfall every few years,” Habeck, of the Greens Party, told broadcaster n-tv.

Deadly floods hit Western Europe in 2021, with at least 220 people killed between July 12 and 15, mostly in Germany.

Analysis into that event by climate scientists found that the record rainfall which triggered the deadly floods was made between 1.2 and nine times more likely by human-caused climate change.

Other areas of Europe have also been affected by heavy rainfall in recent days.

Firefighters near the city of Udine in Northeastern Italy said Sunday they recovered the bodies of two young women who were swept away by strong currents in the Natisone River, which was swollen by the precipitation.

Firefighters say they are looking for the body of a third person.

Slovenia was hit by flooding Monday evening.

The Radenci and Gornja Radgona municipalities, near the Austrian border, were the worst affected in the country, according to public broadcaster RTV SLO.

Likewise, flooding and landslides hit Croatia’s Krapina-Zagorje county, in the north of the country on the border with Slovenia, following heavy rainfall on Monday, according to public news agency HINA.

Aerial view of a house destroyed by recent flooding in Rudersberg, Germany on Tuesday. (Thomas Niedermueller/Getty Images via CNN Newsource)

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