Merkel to Visit German Flood Regions Amid State of Emergency

Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit flooded regions of Germany as she moves to take control after a state of emergency was declared less than four months before national elections.

The army has been deployed to help people in the affected areas in the south and east of the country and an emergency task force, reporting directly to the chancellery, has been set up, Steffen Seibert, chief government spokesman, told reporters in Berlin today. Merkel will travel to the flooded regions tomorrow, with her destinations to be decided later as the situation develops, he said.

Germany is suffering from heavy rainfall that threatens to turn into a repeat of the 2002 flooding that crippled much of central Europe. The German cities of Passau, about 30 miles from the Czech border, and Rosenheim declared a state of emergency, while Bavaria’s flood alert service warned that the forecast of continuing rain was likely to worsen the flooding affecting the rivers Danube and Inn. Rivers in Saxony and Baden-Wuerttemberg have also burst their banks.

In 2002, then Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder reversed a poll lead held by Merkel’s Christian Democratic bloc after he toured German regions suffering flooding in August that year, and went on to win the September election.

Seibert, responding to a reporter’s question at a regular government press conference, rebuffed any similarity with Merkel as she faces federal elections on Sept. 22.

Her visit tomorrow “is about rallying all the resources of the federal and regional governments to help those affected,” he said. “That’s what concerns the chancellor.”

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