Berlin (dpa) – There was resistance to local population warnings via SMS in the federal government before the severe weather disaster in West Germany.
Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) confirmed in the Bundestag before a special meeting of the Interior Committee that “not everyone has always been enthusiastic about the idea in recent months”. “But I have decided that we will do it and do it, there is absolutely no reasonable argument against it,” he added.
Cell broadcast warning
The chairman of the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief (BBK), Armin Schuster, had already ordered a feasibility study in the spring to warn by cell broadcasting. According to reports, the head of the authority, which is subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior, also tried to convince other departments, including the Ministry of Economy.
In cell broadcasting, a message is sent to mobile phone users, similar to an SMS – to all recipients who are currently in the relevant radio cell. Data protectionists consider this technology, which is already used in many other countries, to be relatively harmless.
Seehofer against responsibility at federal level
In the opinion of the federal minister of the interior, the federal government should also not take responsibility for disaster relief. The decisions needed in a disaster should continue to be made locally, interfering with the powers of the states and municipalities would be wrong, according to the CSU politician.
The minister emphasized that the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief (BBK) should only take on a stronger coordinating role. “The BBK will be a center of competence in the future”, this was agreed at the conference of the federal and state ministers of the interior before the devastating floods in West Germany.
Until now, management of acute disaster situations was the responsibility of the federal states and municipalities. For its part, the federal government has the task of protecting the population in case of defence. Some experts consider this classification obsolete.
At least 179 people died in the storm in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia last week. Dozens are still missing.