German interior minister says weather warnings are up to local authorities

People carry items in an area affected by floods caused by heavy rainfalls in Bad Muenstereifel, Germany, July 19, 2021. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

STEINBACHTAL DAM, Germany, July 19 (Reuters) – German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said that storm and flood warnings must be issued at the local level, not by the federal government.

“Warnings go to the states and to the communities, which make decisions. It’s not Berlin that declares a state of emergency, that is done locally,” he told journalists on Monday.

Seehofer has come under fire as the death toll from floods in western Germany rose above 160 on Monday and the government faced criticism that warnings of impending disaster did not reach the population.

“The channels of communication for which the federal government is responsible worked,” he added, as he visited the Steinbachtal dam, which had been at risk of breach for several days.

Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Maria Sheahan, editing by Kirsti Knolle

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