Fifth person confirmed dead in Bavarian flooding

Rescue teams have found a fifth body in Simbach in Bavaria after deadly floods swept through the town on Wednesday evening. Authorities warn the number could rise.

Fifth person confirmed dead in Bavarian flooding
A river rescue team moves through the streets of Simach am Inn with a boat on Thursday morning. Photo: DPA

Rescue teams dug the body of a 75-year-old man out of the debris in the town on Thursday morning, broadcaster N-tv reports.

Three more people are still missing.

“We fear the worst,” a police spokesperson told the broadcaster.

Four people were reported dead by police overnight in Lower Bavaria after serious flooding hit several small towns close to the Austrian border.

Three of the victims were found together on the ground floor of a house in Simbach am Inn, police reported late on Wednesday night.

Divers had to recover them after people in the upper floors told rescuers that their neighbours were still down there.

“Our empathy is with their loved ones,” local administrator Michael Fahmüller said.

Water pumps were sent into the town by early morning on Thursday in a bid to begin cleaning up the mess.

But the flood had swept trees, rocks, cars, rubbish and mud through the devastated town, smashing shop windows and businesses on the main street.

A fourth woman was recovered dead from a stream near Julbach, a few kilometres away, police reported.

“The floods came so quickly that people had to escape to the roofs of their houses,” a spokesman for the Lower Bavarian regional police said, adding that many streets were submerged.

In the town of Triftern, around 50 children and 25 adults bunked down in their school on Wednesday after being cut off by the waters.

Volunteers are still searching for a fifth person reported missing in Zeilarn, and others may be reported in the course of the day.

'A big mess'

“It's all a big mess,” said a spokeswoman for the Rottal-Inn district, which covers most of the stricken towns.

Administrators there had already declared a disaster by Wednesday afternoon as high waters blocked traffic and left many people – including a large group of school children – stranded.

Around 9,000 homes were left without power overnight as the floods took their toll on local power lines.

Firefighters stand on a destroyed street in Simbach am Inn after a devastating flood. Photo: DPA

First estimates of the devastating results of the flood put the cost of the damage at well over €10 million.

Some whole housing estates have been made uninhabitable by the chaos, with river rescue boats now patrolling the streets and shouting out in case any people remain trapped in their flooded homes.

Dam threatens to burst in NRW

In North Rhine-Westphalia, firefighters in the capital Düsseldorf reported more than 420 callouts by Wednesday night to pump water out of cellars and flooded tunnels.

Around 240 firefighters were involved in fighting the rising waters. No-one was hurt, but traffic around Düsseldorf was blocked due to the flooded tunnels on the A46 Autobahn.

Other tunnels in and around the city were blocked by high water.

Meanwhile, authorities have declared a disaster after sustained heavy rainfall in the Wesel district.

Gauges show that the river Issel has reached 1.5 metres above its usual level, a spokesperson for the local crisis team said.

A regional train near Xanten, North Rhine-Westphalia, is unable to proceed after a mudslide blocked tracks towards Duisburg on Wednesday. Photo: DPA

Volunteers are trying to shore up a dam with sandbags which threatens to burst, flooding a nearby business district.

In neighbouring Xanten, the historic town centre has been flooded.

Train tracks are likely to be blocked for several days after a mudslide interrupted traffic towards Duisburg.

Warnings still in place

In its report on Thursday morning, the German Weather Service (DWD) warned that southern, eastern, and central Germany may continue to suffer heavy rain over the coming 24 hours.

“There remains a certain risk of severe weather with heavy rain [in the south] because the storms are not moving very far,” the report read.

But the warning levels are lower and the at-risk areas much smaller than they were early on Wednesday evening, according to the DWD weather map.

DWD weather warnings in southern and eastern Germany early on Thursday morning. Click the map for an interactive version. Image: DWD

Over the border in Austria, heavy rain lashed the Salzburg region, flooding several roads and forcing several schools to announce closures for Thursday.

Heavy rain and floods have also caused chaos in France, with at least one woman killed in some of the worst flooding in more than 100 years in the centre of the country.

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What temperatures can we expect in Germany this week?

Parts of Germany will see another heatwave this week as temperatures soar.

What temperatures can we expect in Germany this week?

The German Weather Service (DWD) has predicted that the mercury will climb in some regions of to around 34C this week. 

“After low pressure ‘Karin’ gave parts of Germany rain, sometimes in large quantities, high pressure ‘Piet’ is now back in pole position,” said meteorologist Lars Kirchhübel of the DWD.

This high pressure zone will dominate the weather in large parts of western and central Europe over the coming days, the weather expert said, adding that it will reach Germany too. 

On Monday temperatures remained fairly cool across the country after a weekend of showers, but they are set to climb over the course of the week, particularly on Wednesday and Thursday. Forecasters predict it could reach 32C in Stuttgart and 33C in Cologne on Thursday. Locally, temperatures could reach 34C. 

However, from the Oder and Neisse rivers to the Erzgebirge mountains and southeast Bavaria, denser clouds and some showers are to be expected. This is due to a high-level low pressure system over the Balkan region, according to forecasters. Short showers are also possible in the Black Forest.

“In most of the rest of the country, high ‘Piet’ will be able to hold its ground,” said Kirchhübel.

READ ALSO: Heavy rain in Bavaria swells rivers, but flooding avoided

At the end of the week, thunderstorms are forecast but temperatures are expected to remain high. 

August in Germany ‘too dry’

According to the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, August as a whole – apart from a few areas in eastern Germany – will be too dry compared to the multi-year average.

The Black Forest, the High Rhine and the Allgäu to the Bavarian Forest, however, are not expected to have any major problems due to the high rainfall of the past few days.

“Looking at Rhineland-Palatinate, the southern half of Hesse, the western half of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Franconia shows a different picture,” said Kirchhübel. In the last 30 days, only about 10 percent of the usual level of precipitation fell in some places.

“At some stations, no precipitation at all has been measured in August,” added Kirchhübel, referencing Würzburg as an example.

Rainfall at the weekend caused the water in the Rhine river to rise slightly. In Emmerich, the water level reached a positive value again after the historic low of the past few days: in the morning, it showed three centimetres – an increase of six centimetres compared to the previous day.

The water level also rose by several centimetres at the other measuring points in North Rhine-Westphalia: in Cologne, the level rose to 80cm and in Düsseldorf to 38cm.

READ ALSO: Damaged freighter blocks traffic at drought-hit Rhine

Despite this encouraging trend, the Waterways and Shipping Authority said it did not expect a huge improvement in water levels in the foreseeable future due to more hot weather coming.