Warned too late? Justice Germany investigates death due to flood negligence

The Public Prosecutors Office in Germany is going to conduct a preliminary investigation into the heavy floods last month in the Ahr Valley, in the west of the country. That should make it clear if there is โ€œdeath and injury due to negligenceโ€.

Those floods killed 138 people. Local governments would have warned or evacuated the population poorly or too late. The German prostate does not mean who the suspicions are directed against.

The Ahr river suddenly rose so fast on the night of July 14th to 15 that many inhabitants couldnt go any more. For example, the water was in a house for people with mental disabilities in Sinzig within a minute to the first floor. Twelve residents drowned. The police reports of that incident are included in the investigation.

Automated emails

Ahrweiler District authorities would already have received several automated emails from the Ministry of Environment of the North Rhine-Westphalia warning about the high water earlier in the day.

After the floods in the Ahr Valley, reporter Henrik-Willem Hofs was just east of Bad Mรผnstereifel. He saw miles of miles of devastation:

Since last months flood disaster, a reform of disaster relief has been discussed in Germany again. This is how we are working on a German version of the NL alert. For privacy reasons, the country does not want to use such a warning system.

Many victims of the flood immediately complained that they were not warned at all or just shortly before the flood. In Sinzig, where there were many fatalities, that was the case too.


The Interior Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate says that the whole thing is now under scrutiny. It is also considered to repurchase the sirens, which were disassembled in many places shortly after the end of the Cold War, for emergencies.

Three weeks after the major floods, not all victims have still been found. About sixty more are missing. The damage in western Germany runs in billions.