Twelve drown at disabled care facility after being trapped in German floods

Twelve people have drowned after being trapped in a disabled care facility in the German town of Sinzig.

The victims, who lived in the home and suffered from “severe disabilities” according to German media, were trapped when the Ahr river broke its banks and rose quickly overnight in Rhineland-Palatinate.

A spokesman for Lebenshilfe, the organisation responsible for running the facility, said the ground floor of the building filled up with water quickly and with such force that residents did not have a chance to escape.

The residents on the upper floors of the building were kept locked inside for several hours, and have now been moved to hotels or to stay with family.

State authorities initially reported the death toll as nine, with German media now reporting it has risen to 12.

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Stefan Möller, the managing director of the facility, told the German tabloid Bild that the victims were being monitored but that the water rose too quickly for them to be evacuated.

“The residents were not alone. We had a nightwatchman in the neighbouring house,” he said on Friday morning.

“At the request of the fire brigade, the building was to be evacuated. But when the employee came over [to evacuate], the tidal wave came – he couldn’t get out and couldn’t help.

“It’s terrible. Our employees are traumatised, but they still help as best they can. They are also in the process of looking after the other residents in Neuwied.”

A retirement home in the same village containing around 100 people also became inundated and was evacuated late on Wednesday, German media reports.

As at Friday morning, the floods have claimed at least 93 lives in several towns and villages across western Germany, with hundreds more missing. Some 114,000 households have been left without power on Friday, said a spokesman for Westnetz, the country’s biggest power distribution grid company.

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