Berlin: Germany is counting the costs of the worst flooding in more than a decade, which claimed at least eight lives, forced an estimated 100,000 people to flee their homes and left a trail of devastation from Bavaria in the south to Schleswig-Hostein in the north.
As the swollen Elbe continued to threaten several cities and villages in northern Germany along its path to the North Sea, Chancellor Angela Merkel has convened a meeting with the premiers of the 16 states in Berlin to work out a long-term plan for rehabilitation and reconstruction in the affected regions.
She had announced an emergency assistance of 100 million euros (USD 130 million) for the flood victims at the beginning of the disaster.
The meeting is expected to come up with a preliminary estimate of the overall costs of the disaster in terms of the loss of private properties, damage to business and devastation of the infrastructure.
Various experts suggested ahead of the meeting that the economic costs of the two-week flooding will be much higher than during the last worst flooding in 2002 because this time the Danube in the south and the Elbe in the north-east as well as their tributaries were swollen by heavy rainfalls simultaneously and hit much wider and more populous areas.
Rating agency Fitch estimated that the damage caused by the floods could be around USD 15.6 billion. The costs for the insurance companies will be around USD 3.25 billion, it said.
If the agency`s estimate proves to be true, then the total costs of the current flooding will be much higher than in 2002 when the insurance costs were around 1.8 billion euros.