(Reuters) – A relief official said on Wednesday rescue crews were unlikely to find any more survivors in the rubble of villages devastated by floods in western Germany, and a new poll showed many Germans felt policymakers had not enough to protect them.
At least 170 people died in last week’s flooding, Germany’s worst natural disaster in more than half a century, and thousands went missing.
“We are still looking for missing persons as we clear roads and pump water out of basements,” Sabine Lackner, deputy chief of the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW), told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland.
Any victims that are found now are likely to be dead, she said.
For immediate relief, the federal cabinet on Wednesday approved plans to initially provide up to 200 million euros ($235.5 million) in emergency aid, a government source told Reuters.
That will come on top of at least 250 million euros to be provided from the affected states to repair buildings and damaged local infrastructure and to help people in crisis situations.
Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told Deutschlandfunk radio the aid would include funds to help businesses such as restaurants or hair salons make up for lost revenue.
The floods have dominated the political agenda less than three months before a national election in September and raised uncomfortable questions about why Europe’s richest economy was caught flat-footed.
Two-thirds of Germans believe that federal and regional policymakers should have done more to protect communities from floods, a survey by the INSA institute for German mass-circulation paper Bild showed on Wednesday.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, visiting the devastated town of Bad Muenstereifel on Tuesday, said authorities would look at what had not worked after being widely accused of not being prepared despite severe weather warnings from meteorologists.