After severe weather disaster: Justice checks responsibility | free press


Koblenz / Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler (dpa) – In the investigation into the devastating flood in the Ahr Valley, the Rhineland-Palatinate public prosecutor’s office is checking whether district administrator Jürgen Pföhler was allowed to transfer responsibility for disaster relief to a member of the crisis team on 14 July.

A spokesman for the public prosecutor of Koblenz said on Tuesday that it is being investigated whether the CDU politician should not have checked the deployed person more often.

“Both aspects are the subject of the investigation as part of the preliminary investigation,” said the spokesperson. District administrator Pföhler appealed in a statement on Tuesday to assess the events during the flood in a sensible way.

According to the prosecutor’s office, the district administrator had previously announced that he had handed over the management of operations in the storm-hit Ahrweiler district to a third person years ago. As a result, the disaster alarm went off on 14 July at 23:09.

The “Rhein-Zeitung” wondered whether Pföhler could delegate responsibility on the night of the flood. She referred to a timetable according to which “direct management by the political authority with ultimate responsibility is necessary in the event of large-scale and long-term major damage events or calamities”. The relevant district administrator is mentioned as an authority.

The Koblenz Public Prosecutor’s Office announced on August 6 that it had opened an investigation. The investigations against Pföhler and another unnamed member of the crisis team relate to the initial suspicion of wrongful death and negligent bodily harm caused by neglect on the night of the flood of 14 July. In essence, it also checks whether human lives could have been saved through previous warnings or evacuations.

Pföhler announced on Tuesday that it was important to assess the events from 14 to 15 July “carefully and objectively”. Everyone involved in the operation acted to the best of their knowledge and belief. “All emergency services have done a professional job, for which I would like to express my gratitude,” emphasized Pföhler. He extends his sincere condolences to the families of the victims and all concerned.

Extremely heavy rainfall caused a flood wave on the Ahr in mid-July and destroyed large parts of the narrow valley. About 42,000 people are affected by the consequences. The death toll in Rhineland-Palatinate is 142, of which 141 in the Ahr Valley. According to the police, some people may have died just before the flooding for other reasons, such as in hospital.