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SMS logs put Anne Spiegel under pressure

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vBefore the appearance of the former Minister of the Environment of Rhineland-Palatinate and current Federal Minister of Family Affairs, Anne Spiegel (Greens), this Friday before the commission of inquiry into the flood disaster, more incriminating details were known. This raises the question of the extent to which Spiegel was available to her employees on July 14 and 15.

Julian Staib

Political correspondent for Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland based in Wiesbaden.

As the “Rhein-Zeitung” reports, citing call lists, Spiegel’s State Secretary Erwin Manz (Greens) tried in vain to contact the minister on the afternoon of July 14 at 10:24 p.m. and on July 15 at 7:52 a.m. On the night of July 14, he sent her via a courier service a link to the flood reporting website of the State Office for the Environment (LfU), which was also under the control of Spiegel.

However, Manz himself seemed to have completely misjudged the situation. At 9:38 p.m. he wrote to the then LfU president: “Hopefully nobody gets hurt.” Already at 15:24, the LfU had predicted a water level in Altenahr well above the “flood of the century” in 2016. From 14 to 15 July, 134 people died in the Ahr and more than 700 were injured.

The ministry refrained from issuing a corrective press release

On July 14 at 4:43 p.m., the Spiegel ministry sent out a press release titled “Tense flood situation in Rhineland-Palatinate.” In it, Spiegel is quoted as saying, “We take the situation seriously, even if there is no threat of extreme flooding.” He called on all residents of the river to be attentive to the situation. Campground operators in particular need to take precautions. As the “Rhein-Zeitung” writes, citing SMS logs, the press release was published by Spiegel. She wrote: “I only got to watch it briefly please genre camp operators otherwise release.”

According to email records, Secretary of State Manz realized shortly after that the content of the email was incorrect. He wrote to press office employees that the press release was “out of date” and that there was an “extreme event in the Ahr.” A camp there had been evacuated by air. Asked by a press spokeswoman if anything needed to be done about it, he replied, “Not today.” A corrective press release was not sent, so with a warning.

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