Europe – Rain Triggers Deadly Flash Floods and Mudslides in Germany, Austria and Italy

Flash floods and mudslides triggered by heavy rainfall caused widespread damage across parts of southern Germany, Austria and northern Italy from 16 August. One person died and one reported missing in Bavaria, Germany. Flash floods in Austria buried a train in rocks and debris in Wald im Pinzgau, Austria.

The Krimml station, track and a train of the Pinzgauer local railway in Wald im Pinzgau were completely buried. Photo Wald Municipality

Bavaria, Germany

Flash floods triggered by heavy rainfall were reported in Grainau in Garmisch-Partenkirchen district, southern Bavaria in Germany.

Police reported 12 people were swept away or stranded after flash floods from the Hammersbach stream swept through the narrow Höllental gorge situated at the foot of the Zugspitze, the highest peak of the Wetterstein Mountains. The area is popular with tourists and hikers.

A team of around 150 rescue workers were deployed to the area. As of 16 August, 8 people had been rescued, while the body of one person had been found and 1 was still missing. Search operations were ongoing.

Severe weather also affected northern Germany, where a tornado hit the village of Grossheide near the North Sea coast late 16 August, damaging or destroying more than 50 homes.

Höllentalklamm is also known as “Hell Valley” and is popular with tourists and hikers but well known for landslides and rockfalls. Photo: Sebastian W / Pixabay


Heavy rain in parts of Salzburg State in Austria from 16 August triggered mudslides and flash floods in the  Pongau and Pinzgau regions.

The small city of Sankt Johann im Pongau recorded 36 mm of rain in 1 hour and 51 in 2 hours on 16 August 2021.

Emergency teams including 1,400 firefighters and around 70 high water rescue specialists carried out around 500 interventions. Salzburg Water Rescue Service said it was lucky nobody was killed considering the amount of flooding and rain.

Roads were blocked in several locations and dozens of people had to be rescued from cars. In Dienten municipality in Pinzgau, 3 people were recued by firefighters after a bus and a car were both swept into a stream by a mudslide. All 3 suffered injuries, one of them seriously.

Firefighters rescued around 90 people in areas around Sankt Johann im Pongau after several cars were left stranded  by two mudslides in between St. Johann and Wagrain. A vehicle was swept away by the mudslide but according to the police, the 2 passengers and driver were able to save themselves unharmed.

The Krimml train station, track and a train of the Pinzgauer local railway in Wald im Pinzgau were completely buried in rocks and flood debris. Areas of the town were also badly affected and residents evacuated with assistance from the Federal Army.

Parts of the states of Lower Austria, Styria and Tyrol also reported storm damage.

Firefighters cleared around 200 flooded basements in the districts of Amstetten, St. Pölten, Melk, Tulln, Baden and Mödling in Lower Austria. One person was injured in Guntramsdorf during clean-up operations.

In Styria, thunderstorms and heavy rain caused some flooding in the district of Liezen. Basements, underground garages and underpasses were flooded.

Firefighters in Tyrol State were called out to 200 incidents. Flooding and mudslides were reported in Innsbruck-Land district.

Floods in St Johann Austria, 16 August 2021. Photo: St Johann Feuerwehr
Flash flood and mudslide in Dienten, Austria, 16 August 2021. Photo: Dienten Feuerwehr


The severe weather caused damage in parts of South Tyrol Province of northern Italy on 16 August. The communes of Ahrntal and Pflersch were the worst affected. Firefighters responded to 200 incidents, including flooded buildings and roads. Thirty people were evacuated after floods and mudslides in areas of Pflersch.

Sankt Johann im Ahrntal (also San Giovanni) recorded 43mm of rain in 1 hour on 16 August 2021.

Floods in Pflersch, South Tyrol, Italy, 16 August 2021. Photo: FF Pflersch
Floods in Pflersch, South Tyrol, Italy, 16 August 2021. Photo: FF Pflersch