German interior minister criticises ‘life-threatening nonsense’ of flood kitesurfers – The Telegraph

A German interior minister has warned of “life-threatening nonsense” after kitesurfers were spotted in flooded areas.

Daniela Behrens, the state interior minister of Lower Saxony, told Spiegel magazine that “unlike in familiar bodies of water, they have no idea what obstacles may appear in front of or below them”.

She added that many of the disaster tourists in the area, among the worst for flooding, “travel specifically to view the masses of water” which can hinder rescue efforts.

Images show kitesurfers in flooded fields being pulled close to the tops of trees which are almost completely submerged in water.

More kitesurfers were reportedly seen in eastern Frisia, northwest of Lower Saxony, and Saxony-Anhalt.

In some areas, including the state of Saxony-Anhalt and the town of Goslar, sandbags were stolen from protective barriers and firefighters were threatened by frightened residents. Mansfeld-South Harz, a town in Saxony-Anhalt, declared a state of emergency.

A police cargo helicopter was deployed to deliver extra-large sandbags to reinforce dikes near the city of Oldenburg, where some 170,000 residents are preparing for a possible evacuation.

The army has also deployed five helicopters after the state requested help from the military.

Just hours before his new year message is due to be broadcast, Olaf Scholz, the chancellor, has appeared in the Aller valley to thank volunteers and survey flood-protection measures, saying it is “important that we stick together in this country”.

Meanwhile, volunteers at Lower Saxony’s Serengeti Park had to bring meerkats and lemurs to safety after water levels rose dramatically, while larger animals like antelope and giraffe avoided evacuation after water pumps were deployed.

Local districts called on residents to cancel Germany’s often-rowdy New Year’s Eve fireworks celebrations to reduce pressure on emergency services.

Even more rainfall is predicted by the German weather service, though Ms Behrens noted that “we currently do not expect that the forecast rain will dramatically worsen the situation”.

The Lower Saxony State Office for Water Management said that the flood peak had been reached.

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