Home News Life More than 150 Germans are still unaccounted in Ahrweiler region

More than 150 Germans are still unaccounted in Ahrweiler region

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A week after the flood disaster in Germany, the search for dead and missing continues. In the meantime, almost 170 deaths have been recovered. At least half of them have yet to be identified. More than 150 people are still reported missing, especially in the Ahrweiler region in the Eifel.

Dogs and identification teams search the endless rubble for survivors, but the chances of finding them now are slim. “One week after such an event, the chance that missing persons are still alive naturally decreases,” says state minister of Rhineland-Palatinate Roger Lewentz. “And I cannot say today that we are going to clarify the fate of all 155 missing persons.”

Because the emergency services were working on acute emergency relief, in many places it is only now possible to start pumping out cellars. In addition, the authorities expect to find victims.

Lewentz talks about the huge operation: “we go meter by meter, first along the river, but also through the houses. It has to be structured. It’s the police’s job to secure bodies. You shouldn’t want neighbors to find each other.”

The enormous devastation complicates the search. In the badly hit town of Altenahr volunteer fireman Frank Ley points to a bridge, the only one of the three bridges that is still standing. “Look there. Before the bridge, trees, debris, cars and much more have accumulated. Two more bodies were found in that compound today. But before you get through all that, it really takes a while.”

Search dogs are also being used. “In Altenahr it smells like death”, says another volunteer. “In all the completely destroyed houses, and especially in the cellars, not all bodies have yet been recovered.”

Not only is the search for victims, the identification of the bodies found is slow. Researchers compare dental data and DNA with databases. They check the missing persons lists and ask family and friends for photos of the missing person, what he or she was last wearing or where they were last seen.

It takes time. In Rhineland-Palatinate, only 66 of the 128 recovered deaths have been identified. Minister Lewentz stresses that the victims will not be buried together. “We want these people to be buried in value and by their loved ones.”

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