German and Belgian governments sued for criminal neglect and slow response during Storm Bernd
German and Belgian authorities have been criticized for reacting far too late to flood warnings. The prosecution will now investigate whether it could be considered a matter of criminal negligence that led to around 200 deaths in the two countries during the floods following Storm Bernd.
Two regional government officials from the state of Rhineland-Palatinate are suspected of criminal neglect causing death and causing bodily harm following the heavy floods in mid-July that killed 141 people in the region.
The initial investigation by the Koblenz Public Prosecutor's Office has raised suspicions that evacuations had been willfully delayed. According to a survey commissioned by the German newspaper Bild, two-thirds of Germans believe that decision-makers at both the federal and regional levels should have done more to protect society during the floods.
Across the country, more than 170 people died, thousands of homes were destroyed and many still do not have electricity and water.
Belgium received 25 weather warnings
Prosecutors in Liège, Belgium, have also launched a criminal investigation after media reports stating that Belgian authorities acted only last minute, despite receiving 25 weather warnings.
"We want to investigate the truth by ourselves in peace and quiet, objectively and independently, out of respect for the victims and their families," prosecutor Damien Leboutte told international media.
37 people lost their lives in the province of Liège during the floods following Storm Bernd.