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30 bn euros to rebuild after German floods: Laschet

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German Finance Minister and Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz (C-L), also candidate for chancellor of Germany’s social democratic SPD party, North Rhine-Westphalia’s State Premier Armin Laschet (4thR), also candidate for chancellor of Germany’s conservative CDU/CSU union, Stolberg’s mayor Patrick Haas (SPD, 2ndR) and City Council of the Aachen region Tim Gruttemeier (CDU, 1stR), walk through the town centre in Stolberg, western Germany, as they visit the region hit by deadly floods on August 3, 2021. – At least 180 people died when severe floods pummelled western Germany over two days in mid-July. (Photo by Marius Becker / POOL / AFP)

The conservative frontrunner to succeed Angela Merkel as German chancellor, Armin Laschet, called Monday for up to 30 billion euros ($35 billion) to rebuild after last month’s catastrophic floods.

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Laschet, who leads one of the states hardest hit by the historic deluge, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), told a special session of the regional legislature that victims could count on “solidarity”.

“The total damage in North Rhine-Westphalia will reach 13 billion euros according to initial estimates,” he said, while neighbouring state Rhineland-Palatinate “will reach a similar, perhaps even higher sum”.

Laschet said Germany’s 16 state leaders and the federal government were well on their way to hammering out a relief package for afflicted areas.

“All the states have shown they are ready to commit this 20 to 30 billion euros.”

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He added that NRW had not faced the need to rebuild thousands of destroyed homes at once since World War II and would appoint an official to manage the reconstruction effort and improve disaster warning systems.

The costs are to be equally shared between the federal government and the states, according to draft conclusions of a meeting of top political officials to be held on Tuesday reported in German media.

At least 190 people lost their lives in severe floods that pummelled western Germany in mid-July, wiping out homes, businesses and vital infrastructure.

Laschet’s Christian Democrats are leading in the polls ahead of the September 26 election although he has faced criticism for his handling of the catastrophe.

Government officials have vowed to learn lessons from the tragedy and improve the country’s disaster warning systems, including through SMS alerts and wider use of sirens.

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