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EU mobilizes further support to #Indonesia

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Following Indonesia's request to activate the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, further assistance has now been offered by Germany, France, Spain and the UK in addition to that already offered by Belgium and Denmark. The Commission's Emergency Response Coordination Centre is co-ordinating the offers of assistance to the areas affected by the deadly earthquake and tsunami that hit Central Sulawesi. "I commend the generosity and solidarity of our member states. The European Union was swift in helping our friends in Indonesia during this moment of need. Our support will provide crucial assistance to the people affected on the ground," said Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Commissioner Christos Stylianides. Support offered via the Mechanism includes water purification equipment, emergency shelters, generators and other essential supplies. Copernicus, the Commission's emergency satellite mapping services, has produced 10 maps of the areas near the earthquake's epicentre. Additionally, the Commission and several member states have collectively pledged an amount of approximately €8 million in humanitarian assistance to Indonesia for this disaster.

Belgium

Cars and pavements washed away as Belgian town hit by worst floods in decades

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The southern Belgian town of Dinant was hit by the heaviest floods in decades on Saturday (24 July) after a two-hour thunderstorm turned streets into torrential streams that washed away cars and pavements but did not kill anyone, writes Jan Strupczewski, Reuters.

Dinant was spared the deadly floods 10 days ago that killed 37 people in southeast Belgium and many more in Germany, but the violence of Saturday's storm surprised many.

"I have been living in Dinant for 57 years, and I've never seen anything like that," Richard Fournaux, the former mayor of the town on the Meuse river and birthplace of the 19th century inventor of the saxophone, Adolphe Sax, said on social media.

A woman works to recover her belongings following heavy rainfall in Dinant, Belgium July 25, 2021. REUTERS/Johanna Geron
A woman walks in an area affected by heavy rainfall in Dinant, Belgium July 25, 2021. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

Rainwater gushing down steep streets swept away dozens of cars, piling them in a heap at a crossing, and washed away cobbles stones, pavements and whole sections of tarmac as inhabitants watched in horror from windows.

There was no precise estimate of the damage, with town authorities predicting only that it would be "significant", according to Belgian RTL TV.

The storm wreaked similar havoc, also with no loss of life, in the small town of Anhee a few kilometres north of Dinant.

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Disasters

EU sends four fire-fighting planes to tame Sardinia fires

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Smoke billows from a wildfire near Cuglieri, Sardinia, Italy July 25, 2021, in this screen grab obtained from a social media video. CRONACHE NUORESI via REUTERS

The European Union is sending four forest firefighting planes to Sardinia in response to a request from Italy to help tame fires that have swept across parts of the island, prompting the evacuation of hundreds of people, writes Jan Strupczewski, Reuters.

Two of the Canadair planes, amphibious planes used to pick up water to drop on fires, are provided by France from the European Civil Protection Pool and two by Greece from the resources of the rescEU programme, the European Commission said.

Seven Canadair aircraft were already at work in the area, the Italian civil protection authority said.

The wildfires have hit the area of Montiferru, in the centre-west of the island, because of a heat wave with over 4,000 hectares (9,880 acres) burnt and 355 people evacuated, the EC said.

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Disasters

Germany sets out flood relief funding, hopes of finding survivors fade

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People remove debris and rubbish, following heavy rainfalls, in Bad Muenstereifel, North Rhine-Westphalia state, Germany, July 21, 2021. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen

A relief official dampened hopes on Wednesday (21 July) of finding more survivors in the rubble of villages devastated by floods in western Germany, as a poll showed many Germans felt policymakers had not done enough to protect them, write Kirsti Knolle and Riham Alkousaa.

At least 170 people died in last week's flooding, Germany's worst natural disaster in more than half a century, and thousands went missing.

"We are still looking for missing persons as we clear roads and pump water out of basements," Sabine Lackner, deputy chief of the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW), told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland.

Any victims that are found now are likely to be dead, she said.

For immediate relief, the federal government will initially provide up to €200 million euros ($235.5m) in emergency aid, and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said more funds can be made available if needed.

That will come on top of at least €250m to be provided from the affected states to repair buildings and damaged local infrastructure and to help people in crisis situations.

Scholz said the government would contribute to the cost of rebuilding infrastructure such as roads and bridges. The full extent of the damage is not clear, but Scholz said that rebuilding after previous floods cost about 6 billion euros.

Interior minister Horst Seehofer, who faced calls from opposition politicians to resign over the high death toll from the floods, said there would be no shortage of money for reconstruction.

"That is why people pay taxes, so that they can receive help in situations like this. Not everything can be insured," he told a news conference.

The floods are estimated to have caused more than 1 billion euros in insured losses, actuary company MSK said on Tuesday.

The overall damage is expected to be much higher as only around 45% of homeowners in Germany have insurance that covers flood damage, according to figures from Germany's insurance industry association GDV.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told Deutschlandfunk radio the aid would include funds to help businesses such as restaurants or hair salons make up for lost revenue.

The floods have dominated the political agenda less than three months before a national election in September and raised uncomfortable questions about why Europe's richest economy was caught flat-footed.

Two-thirds of Germans believe that federal and regional policymakers should have done more to protect communities from floods, a survey by the INSA institute for German mass-circulation paper Bild showed on Wednesday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, visiting the devastated town of Bad Muenstereifel on Tuesday, said authorities would look at what had not worked after being widely accused of not being prepared despite weather warnings from meteorologists.

($1 = €0.8490)

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