GERMANY is expected to fork out billions of euros to clean up the devastation after “terrifying” floods that killed 188.
The German Government is piecing together a 300million euros (£257m) rescue package for the worst-hit areas.
Shocking photographs show the widespread devastation caused by the horrific floods with homes destroyed and towns ravaged.
Finance Minister Olaf Scholz made the aid announcement shortly after Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
Speaking with the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, he said Germany had no choice but to kickstart a rebuilding programme.
This comes as German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited hard-hit areas in the west of the country and talked to survivors and emergency workers.
“It is shocking…I can almost say that the German language doesn’t have words for the destruction that’s been wreaked,” she said.
“What I could see, however, is also incredibly comforting – how people are sticking together, how they are helping each other, the solidarity that is there.”
The German leader then vowed to fight climate change “through policy that pays more regard to nature and the climate”.
She said: “Germany is a strong country and we will stand up to this force of nature in the short term — but also in the medium and long term, through policy that pays more regard to nature and the climate than we did in recent years.”
She added that, despite the heavy financial cost, we must fight faster “in the battle against climate change,” pointing to policies already set in motion by Germany and the EU to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
She added: “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.”
The death toll in Germany has risen to at least 188 overnight during the country’s worst natural disaster in decades.
Germany’s finance minister Olaf Scholz has said that officials must begin setting up a rebuilding programme which is likely to cost billions.
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He said he would propose a package of immediate aid, totalling at least 300 million euros (£257 million), at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
A reservoir is now at risk of collapse in the wake of the floods.
Around 4,500 residents in villages near the Steinbach reservoir in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, were told to evacuate their homes amid fears that the 57ft dam could collapse.
Local authorities said the situation was “stable but not uncritical” after cracks were spotted in the dam yesterday. The area has seen three months of rainfall in a week.
Elsewhere, some 110 people were killed in the worst-hit Ahrweiler district south of Cologne, with police expecting to find more bodies as the flood waters recede.
Entire communities in the states of Rhineland Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia have become cut off from power in the past several days. In North Rhine-Westphalia at least 45 were killed during the flooding.
Ms Merkel today travelled to Rhineland Palatinate, which is home to the flood-ravaged village of Schuld, where she inspected the damage and met with locals.
Her visit came after Germany’s president Frank-Walter Steinmeier went to the area yesterday and made clear that it will need long-term support.
Although rain has stopped in the worst-affected areas of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, storms and downpours have persisted in other parts of western and central Europe.
Last night saw flooding in the German-Czech border area and in Germany’s southeastern corner and over the border in Austria
Some 65 people were evacuated in Germany’s Berchtesgaden area after the Ache River swelled – with at least one person killed.
In Austria, a flash flood swept through the town of Hallein late last night, but there were no reports of casualties.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Twitter that heavy rain and storms were continuing to cause serious damage in several parts of Austria.