Germany – Thousands Evacuate Floods in Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg

Thousands of people have evacuated their homes in southern Germany after heavy rain caused multiple rivers to break their banks. At least two people have died and another is reported missing. Officials said the flooding is likely to continue for the next few days.

Floods in Günzburg, Bavaria, Germany, June 2024. Credit: Government of Bavaria, Germany / StMI / Alexandra Beier

A weather system referred to as storm “Orinoco” by Germany’s Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) brought extremely heavy rain from 31 May 2024, in particular the states of Baden-Wuerttemberg and Bavaria.

The German Meteorological Service – Deutsche Wetterdienst (DWD) – said that some areas recorded more than a month’s worth of rain within 24 hours from 31 May 2024. During this period the village of Zeisertsweiler in Sigmarszell District of Bavaria recorded 135 mm. Kißlegg in Baden-Württemberg saw 130 mm and Bad Wörishofen recorded 129mm. Further storms and heavy rain were expected.

Rainfall in Germany from 31 May to 01 June 2024. Image: Deutsche Wetterdienst (DWD)

Multiple rivers broke their banks in the two states. In Bavaria, the Schmutter, Cham, Paar, Ilm, Danube and Isar all reached above the level 4 (highest) warning levels in several locations. Several dam breaks and dyke failures were also reported, including in Augsburg District and in the district of Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm, where around 800 people have been evacuated from the town of Baar-Ebenhausen.

As of 03 June, the biggest concerns were levels of the Danube River and its tributaries. According to the Bavarian State Office for the Environment, the Danube was above the level 4 warning in 11 locations. The Amper at Inkofen and the Paar at Manching and Mühlried were also above the level 4 warning.

A state of emergency was declared in several districts and cities in Bavaria. As of 03 June, the list included the districts of Günzburg, Augsburg, Aichach-Friedberg, Neu-Ulm, Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm, Donau-Ries, Unterallgäu, Freising, Neuburg-Schrobenhausen, Dillingen ad Donau, Dachau, Kelheim, Deggendorf and Straubing-Bogen. The cities of Straubing and Regensburg were also included.

Authorities were called on to carry out rescues and evacuations, including some by helicopter. At least twelve people were rescued from balconies and roofs in Günzburg using a police helicopter.

According to the Bavarian Ministry of the Interior, 3,000 people have been affected by evacuations, including in the districts of Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm, Augsburg, Günzburg and Donau-Ries.

Evacuations were also carried out in Baden-Württemberg. As many as 1,300 people were ordered to evacuate homes in Meckenbeuren. Evacuations were also carried out in Ebersbach an der Fils, among others.

Also in Baden-Württemberg, a train carrying around 180 passengers was derailed due to a landslide on the tracks near Schwäbisch Gmünd. No injuries were reported.

Tragically the floods have resulted in fatalities. A firefighter died when a rescue boat capsized in Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm. Three other firefighters in the boat were able to pull themselves to safety.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on expressed his condolences. “The death of a firefighter in Pfaffenhofen has shocked me,” he said, adding that his thoughts were with the firefighter’s relatives and colleagues.

Another firefighter was reported missing in similar circumstances in Offingen, Bavaria.

A second fatality was reported after rescuers found the body of a person reported missing in a flooded basement of a building in the town of Schrobenhausen, Bavaria.

As of 03 June there were also unconfirmed reports of a flood-related fatality in Baden-Württemberg. “I have just been informed that we must also expect that there is now a death in Baden-Württemberg,” the state’s Interior Minister Thomas Strobl told press during a visit to the municipality of Erbach.

An employee of an energy company suffered serious injuries after he was electrocuted in a flooded area in Allershausen, Bavaria.

Floods in Reichertshofen, Bavaria, Germany, Credit: Government of Bavaria, Germany / StMI / Alexandra BeierJune 2024.