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Hundreds still missing after floods devastate western Germany

German emergency services stepped up their search for hundreds of people who are still missing after the worst flooding in the country’s postwar history caused 93 deaths and left a trail of devastation in its wake.

Rivers across parts of western Germany burst their banks after days of heavy rain turned them into raging torrents that swept away houses, destroyed bridges and roads and left several town centres in ruins.

Large parts of the rail network in the west were still severely disrupted on Friday, with several routes blocked. International train services from Germany to Belgium were also affected. Thousands remained without electricity, and some districts were without fresh water.

The death toll rose again on Friday when local authorities in Erftstadt-Blessem, south-west of Cologne, said a number of people had died after flood damage caused their houses to collapse. Gas leaks were complicating rescue efforts.

One place at the centre of the flooding was Schuld on the Ahr river: German TV showed its town centre piled high with debris.

“The effects of this catastrophe will surely be felt for weeks,” said Juergen Pfoehler, an official in the Ahrweiler district of Rhineland-Palatinate, south of Cologne.

Officials in Ahrweiler said about 1,300 people appeared to be missing as of Thursday night. Cellular networks were down, however, making it hard to locate people. “Due to the complexity of the damage caused, a final assessment of the situation is not yet possible,” the district government wrote on its website.

Floods have also hit parts of Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Belgium, where 12 died and five people are still missing.

Speaking in Washington before talks with US president Joe Biden, German chancellor Angela Merkel pledged rapid help on Thursday to those affected by the floods, backed by “all the powers of the state”.

A severely damaged property in Schuld, near Adenau, in western Germany
Homes were severely damaged in Schuld, near Adenau, in Germany © Sasha Steinbach//EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

German interior minister Horst Seehofer told Der Spiegel magazine that the government would provide financial aid to the affected regions as quickly as possible, and a support programme would be put before the German cabinet on Wednesday.

Seehofer, 72, one of Germany’s veteran politicians, said that “in my entire political career in Germany I have never seen such a flood with such terrible consequences, with so many deaths and so many people missing”.

Scientists have warned that extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and heatwaves will increase as the planet continues to warm.

“No one can seriously doubt that this catastrophe is connected to climate change,” Seehofer said. “Overall, any sensible person must get the fact that freak weather of this density and frequency is not a normal phenomenon in this part of the world, but the consequences of man-made global warming.”

A couple embrace as they stand amid debris caused by the floodwater in Germany
A couple embrace as they stand amid debris caused by the floodwater in Germany © Christof Stache/AFP/Getty

The floods affected two German states, North Rhine-Westphalia, where authorities said 43 people had died, and Rhineland-Palatinate, which reported 50 deaths. Local officials said they expected the death toll to rise once the floodwaters ebbed.

This month’s floods across Europe are expected to lead to another billion-dollar loss for the insurance industry, according to broker Aon. It follows a torrent of hail and heavy rain in June that Aon predicted would lead to $ 4.5bn in payouts from insurers — making it Europe’s costliest two-week stretch on record.

The total financial impact last month, including uninsured losses, was more than $ 6bn, it predicted. 

Additional reporting by Ian Smith

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This post originally posted here International homepage

Germany floods: Several dead, dozens missing after heavy rains

Torrential downpours trigger flash floods in parts of western and central Germany, causing property damage and transport disruption.

At least six people have died and dozens are missing after heavy rains triggered flash floods in parts of Germany, damaging homes and disrupting transport.

Police in the western city of Koblenz said in a Twitter post on Thursday that four people had died in Ahrweiler county, with some 50 others trapped on the roofs of their houses awaiting rescue.

Many of those reported missing were on the roofs of at least six houses that were swept away by floods in the municipality of Schuld, where the rainfall caused rivers to burst their banks, local police said.

Germany floods: Several dead, dozens missing after heavy rainsLarge parts of North Rhine-Westphalia state were hit by heavy rains [Sascha Steinbach/EPA]
Germany floods: Several dead, dozens missing after heavy rainsRail, road and river transport was disrupted [Friedemann Vogel/EPA]

Authorities have declared an emergency in the region after days of torrential downpours caused disruption in rail, road and river transport. Large parts of western and central Germany, as well as neighbouring countries, have experienced widespread damage.

Police said an 82-year-old man died after a fall in his flooded basement in the western city of Wuppertal, which was among the hardest hit.

A firefighter drowned on Wednesday during rescue work in the western German town of Altena, and another man was missing in the eastern town of Joehstadt after disappearing while trying to secure his property from rising waters, authorities said.

Heavy rainstorms are expected in southwestern Germany on Thursday, with continuous rains until Friday evening, the German Weather Service warned in a morning bulletin.

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This post originally posted here Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera

Germany: 30 people missing after six houses collapse in ‘once-in-a-generation floods’

Germany: 30 people missing after six houses collapse in ‘once-in-a-generation floods’

Heavy rain, which triggered the flooding, has led to the collapse of six houses in the West German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. According to broadcaster SWR around 25 more houses are in danger of collapsing in the district of Schuld bei Adenau in the hilly Eiffel region.

The situation in the rural district of Eifelkreis Bitburg-Prum has been described as “extremely dangerous”.

The once-in-a-generation floods have left many people stranded on rooftops, police said on Thursday.

A spokesperson for the Koblenz police told Reuters: “We currently have an unclear number of people on roofs who need to be rescued.

“There are many places where fire brigades and rescue workers have been deployed.

“We do not yet have a very precise picture because rescue measures are continuing.”

On Wednesday, the floods in West Germany claimed the lives of two firemen.

The army was deployed yesterday to help stranded residents in the country’s most populous region as roads and transport systems remain inundated.

Hagen, a city of 180,000, declared a state of emergency after the Volme river burst its banks.

READ MORE: UK weather forecast: 28C Azores heatwave swirls in ending flood hell

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This post originally posted here Daily Express :: World Feed

Reduced-Dose CT Detects Cancer Without Missing Nodules

Reduced-dose computed tomography (CT) can safely be used to detect lung metastasis in pediatric patients with various cancers without sacrificing diagnostic accuracy, a study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology concludes.

The study, in which 92% of lung nodules in pediatric patients were detected with reduced-dose CT (0.3 mSv mean effective dose), involved 78 children (44 males) with a mean age of 15 who had diagnoses such as Ewing sarcoma and osteosarcoma. Patients first underwent standard chest CT (1.8 mSv) followed by a chest CT with an 83% dose decrease. A total of 45 patients (58%) had 162 total lung nodules with a mean size of 3.4 mm.

Reduced-Dose CT Detects Cancer Without Missing Nodules

Three radiologists blind-reviewed the CT examinations, and one radiologist conducted a subsequent review to match lung nodules between standard- and reduced-dose CT examinations. The sensitivity of reduced-dose CT for nodules ranged from 63%-77%, and the specificity ranged from 80%-90% across the three radiologists.

The results point to the potential for increasing the use of reduced-dose CT, according to Andrew Trout, MD, the study’s senior author and an associate professor of radiology and pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Cincinnati, Ohio.

“In pediatric radiology, we try to reduce dose as it relates to radiation, but we are also trying to balance optimizing the dose with optimizing image quality,” explained Trout. “We don’t want to reduce the dose so low that the exam is not interpretable.”

Trout noted that in clinical practice patients and even clinicians will sometimes choose a chest x-ray over a chest CT because of concerns of exposure to radiation. “There is some hesitancy in some areas to use CT,” he said. “This [reduced dose CT] gives us another tool where we can say that this is about the [same] dose as just a couple of chest x-rays. Patients, parents, and even providers have an idea in their mind that CT is bad because it is a high-dose examination. They sometimes choose an x-ray over a CT scan because of concerns of the radiation dose associated with standard CT.”

Trout explained he and co-investigators chose lung nodules because they are very challenging to identify. “They are very small in size (1 to 2 mm),” said Trout. “If we can prove it in this case, that opens the door to wider use of it in cases where it is appropriate.”

One population that would benefit from reduced-dose CT is children with genetic disorders that make them particularly susceptible to radiation exposure. Another population of patients suitable for reduced-dose CT examinations would be follow-up cases.

“There are some situations where the follow-up examinations have switched over to chest x-ray,” said Trout. “I know that as a radiologist, I can’t detect lung nodules from a chest x-ray as well as I can from a CT scan.”

Trout noted the study is limited by its sample size, the fact that it is a single-center investigation, and that it did not completely reflect “real-world” practice where sedation may have to be used in pediatric patients. He underlined that the study findings do not support the notion that reduced-dose CT can be employed to detect soft tissues in the center of the chest.

“While it may work for lung nodules, we don’t know if it will work for soft tissue lesions in the center of the chest,” said Trout. “The dose reduction will create more difficulties for reading soft tissues in the center of the chest such as the heart. The loss of image quality will be greater.”

Daria Manos, MD, a professor of diagnostic radiology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, and president of the Canadian Society of Thoracic Radiology, described the study as very carefully designed and one that will be practice-changing.

“They have shown that when the purpose of a CT is to look for lung nodules, we can safely reduce radiation dose,” said Manos, who was not involved in the study. “This is a beautiful example of how we should be further reducing our radiation dose, particularly in children. All of us should be looking at our CT protocols and trying to modify our techniques to reduce the radiation dose as much as we can.”

The use of ultra low-dose CT will decrease cumulative exposure to radiation over the long-term, said Manos. “It’s important to remember that these pediatric oncology patients will often have many CT scans over their lifetime,” she said. “Every reduction in radiation is impactful.”

Manos and Trout have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

AJR Am J Roentgenol. Published online July 7, 2021. Abstract

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This post originally posted here Medscape Medical News