Schroeder to make electionstop in Bavarian flood area

24th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

24 August 2005, MUNICH, GERMANY - In an apparent replay of his 2002 election campaign, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder plans to visit parts of Bavaria devastated by surging floodwaters this week, the government said Tuesday.

24 August 2005

MUNICH, GERMANY - In an apparent replay of his 2002 election campaign, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder plans to visit parts of Bavaria devastated by surging floodwaters this week, the government said Tuesday.

Schroeder will make a campaign stop at the Bavarian town of Augsburg Thursday to "get first hand information about the current (flood) situation," a government spokesman told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

The Chancellor is widely believed to have pulled off his narrow re-election victory in 2002 in thanks to a hands-on approach to Elbe River floods that year, as well as his strong opposition to the Iraq war.

Back in 2002, the chancellor donned rubber boots and a German Border Police raincoat for high-profile visits to regions devastated by the floods. This year's floods have been far less damaging.

In another parallel to 2002, the Chancellor last week shifted attention from Iraq to Iran and called on Bush to rule out using military force against Teheran's nuclear programme.

Schroeder badly trails his conservative challenger Angela Merkel in all opinion polls with less than four weeks until September 18 general elections.

Meanwhile muddy brown water with small trees and other debris in it swirled under the bridges of the Bavarian capital Munich Wednesday as the masses of water from this week's Alpine flooding moved down central Europe's valleys to the sea.

Higher up in Germany's Garmisch-Partenkirchen area, the clean-up after Tuesday's flash flooding began, but two autobahns across the Alps from Germany to Austria, the E533 and the E45, remained closed because the floodwater had washed out soil or supports.

Germany escaped fatalities in the flooding, which caused even more damage in Switzerland and Austria.

Germany's main re-insurance groups, Munich Re and Hanover Re, said they had yet to send in damage assessors and would not estimate the likely costs till they had more data. Weather forecasters said the heavy rain was over. But the masses of water in the rivers remained.

Munich is situated on the Isar, one of the rivers that flows northwards from the Alps into Europe's great Danube waterway, and the danger that the Isar would burst its banks was especially high north of the city.

Along the valleys, sandbags were piled up at weak points and householders in low-lying homes were told to pack a bag each just in case they had to be evacuated.

Police said one of the flood crests on the upper reaches of the Danube would reach Ulm, 150 kilometres west of Munich, Wednesday afternoon, but flood embankments were expected to hold. The crest was forecast to reach Regensburg in Germany on Thursday.

Along another Danube tributary, the Inn, the crest had reached the Muehldorf area and a full alert was in force, but at Passau, the city built where the river enters the Danube, officials said they believed the waters would pass safely.

Europe's last major floods in the foothills of the Alps were in mid-1999. August 2002 flooding in the Czech Republic, eastern Germany and Poland was caused by heavy rainfall in a different European mountain range, the Ore Mountains.

Copyright DPA with Expatica

Subject: German news

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