2 German regional officials investigated over flood warnings


FILE – In this Monday July 19, 2021 file photo people take a break from cleaning the debris from the flood disaster in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Germany. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen, file)

BERLIN (AP) — German prosecutors said on Friday that they have launched formal investigations into whether two regional officials failed to properly warn residents ahead of last month’s floods that killed 141 people and injured hundreds more.

Prosecutors in the western city of Koblenz said investigations so far had confirmed an “initial suspicion” of negligent homicide and negligent bodily harm against the regional administrator in nearby Ahrweiler county.

At least 141 people died and more than 700 were injured in the Ahr valley on the night of July 14-15. Dozens more people died in other parts of western Germany and neighboring Belgium.

A second member of the crisis management team, who was in charge of the emergency operation for at least part of the night, is also being investigated, prosecutors said.

Residents of the flood-hit towns reported receiving little advance warning of the severe flood that occurred on the night, with some claiming that information from authorities was unclear or entirely absent.

Meanwhile, estimates of the disaster’s economic cost continued to rise.

The economy minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Andreas Pinkwart, said the damage in his state alone is expected to run to between 15 billion and 20 billion euros ($17.7 billion to $23.6 billion).

Federal and state officials are meeting in Berlin on Tuesday to discuss financial aid for the flood-hit regions.

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