Merkel visits North Rhine-Westphalia hit by storm

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the North Rhine-Westphalia disaster zone on Tuesday afternoon. Together with the state Prime Minister Armin Laschet, she visited the town of Bad Münstereifel, where she talked to residents and emergency workers.

In the aftermath of the weather, the discussion on disaster response has been raised in Germany. People in affected areas would have been warned too late through the SMS system. At a press conference, Merkel said the government will investigate how to improve the system. Merkel also promised that more money will be available for reconstruction than previous floods and to ensure that the money gets to the people quickly. I hope this is a matter of days, she said.

Prime Minister Laschet, who is a candidate on behalf of the Christian Democrats to succeed Merkel as Chancellor after the September election, warned that we must accept that this is becoming more and more frequent in the coming years. He therefore advocated a comprehensive programme to adapt rivers to the impacts of climate change.

Laschet also acknowledged that cleaning and repair work are sometimes hampered by bureaucracy. In Germany, were perfect, but were also perfect in bureaucracy.

Merkel visited areas in Rhineland-Palatinate that were badly hit by the weather and floods last week on Sunday. At least 121 people died in Rhineland-Palatinate, 48 in North Rhine-Westphalia. Belgiums death toll has risen to 31. The National Crisis Centre in Belgium reported Tuesday afternoon that 53 more people are missing. More than a hundred people are missing in Germany.