The German association of insurance companies (GDV) has upped its estimate of losses from the recent storms and flooding across the country to €4.5bn-€5.5bn, from last week’s €4bn-€5bn.
This news arrived just as German insurers and the rest of the country learned of a catastrophic explosion at a chemical park near Leverkusen in North Rhine Westphalia, north of Cologne, which has killed at least one person, injured 12 and forced authorities to tell residents to close windows and turn off air-conditioning units.
The fire at the Chempark site, which includes chemicals companies Bayer and Lanxess, had been extinguished after an explosion at 9.40am local time, the park operator told news agency Reuters.
The City of Leverkusen said emergency services had rescued 12 injured people and a further four who were seriously injured. At that time, five people were missing.
Emergency alerts on the German civil protection agency’s mobile phone app warned citizens of “extreme danger” and told them to stay indoors while the threat of toxic gases was assessed.
Leverkusen lies only 30 miles from the region that was so badly hit by last week’s catastrophic floods, which left at least 180 people dead.
Allianz also yesterday gave its first damages estimate, saying that it expects claims of more than €500m from Storm Bernd.
The GDV now believes this year will be the most expensive for insurers in Germany since 2002, when a series of storms caused €10.9bn in claims, the association said.
About 40,000 vehicles were damaged or destroyed in the recent storms, it added.
Allianz said it had already received claims for about 10,000 homes and 3,000 vehicles, and expects the figures to rise to 30,000 and 5,000 respectively, reported Reuters.