Depressing recordings: Ahr Valley disaster: Police show previously unpublished videos from the flood night

Houses surrounded by water up to the top floor and people who draw attention to themselves with hands and light signals - from balconies, from the top floors and from roofs.

Depressing recordings: Ahr Valley disaster: Police show previously unpublished videos from the flood night

Houses surrounded by water up to the top floor and people who draw attention to themselves with hands and light signals - from balconies, from the top floors and from roofs. The Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of the Interior has shown the recently surfaced and previously non-public police helicopter videos from the night of the flood on Tuesday to journalists in Mainz. People and references to certain houses have been pixelated beforehand in the three videos. The films show recordings from the Ahr towns of Mayschoß to Schuld between 10:14 p.m. and 10:43 p.m. on the night of the flood on July 14, 2021. The recordings of a police helicopter were made known only recently, more than a year after the flood, and were behind closed doors by the investigative committee of the been shown in Parliament. The Rhineland-Palatinate Interior Minister Roger Lewentz (SPD) had come under pressure because of the videos. According to his own statements, however, he had seen her for the first time on September 23 in the U-Committee during his second interrogation.

Entire regions are under water on the films. You can also see (pixelated) people on a garage roof and a car that drives through the masses of water with the rear window wipers and interior lights on. Waves slap against the windows of a house trapped by the flood waters. However, a person floating in the water is nowhere to be seen, said Christoph Semmelrogge, head of the Presidium for Operations, Logistics and Technology, to which the helicopter squadron belongs. According to the police, the car was empty. Minister Lewentz emphasized: "It affects everyone when you see these pictures." But the SPD politician also adds that he doesn't see the "main decisive elements for this catastrophe" in the videos. So there are no dead people to be seen. On the other hand, light signals from emergency services on site do, he said. "I see a very large, strong flood here."

Semmelrogge and the Koblenz police chief Karlheinz Maron explain why the videos only appeared recently with a documentation error and a misunderstanding. The videos were only recently found on the external hard drive of a helicopter squadron employee, Semmelrogge said. But there was never any intention to make the recordings inaccessible. The flood disaster on July 14th and 15th, 2021 in the Ahr Valley in Rhineland-Palatinate killed at least 134 people. Another 49 people died in the flood in North Rhine-Westphalia. There, too, there is a state parliament sub-committee to deal with the disaster.

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