North Rhine-Westphalia state premier and CDU chancellor candidate Armin Laschet said Monday that at least €26 billion ($30.5 billion) or more will be needed to help rebuild damaged areas in Germany after deadly flooding last month.
The comments come ahead of a conference on Tuesday between Chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders, where they are expected to sign off on the recovery plan.
What did Laschet say?
"The total damage in North Rhine-Westphalia will reach €13 billion, according to initial estimates," Laschet told members of the state's parliament.
The floods inflicted damage on more than 150 schools in the state, along with 200 day care centers.
Laschet promised to do everything possible to help affected towns and families recover from the disaster.
He said the cost of recovery in neighboring state of Rhineland-Palatinate "will reach a similar, perhaps even higher sum."
"All the states have shown they are ready to commit to this €20 to €30 billion," he added.
The cost of the recovery will be split equally between the federal government and the states.
News magazine Der Spiegel reported on Monday that the federal government has agreed to a recovery package of €30 billion. The amount is up from the €10 billion sum that the magazine reported was in the talks last week.
Germany reeling from worst flooding in decades
The floods in the two western German states left 184 people dead. The eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt was also impacted by the waters, along with the southern state of Bavaria.
Laschet and other German officials have been criticized for their handling of the crisis.
Some residents of heavily-impacted areas have said they received no warning prior to the deadly floods. German prosecutors recently opened a probe into the district chief of the hard-hit area of Ahrweiler for negligence.
Laschet was slammed for laughing while on a visit to a flood-hit town with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier last month. The North Rhine-Westphalia premier later apologized for his mistake.
"It was dumb, stupid, I shouldn't have allowed these few seconds to happen," Laschet told broadcaster RTL West on Monday.
Although Laschet has been seen as the front-runner to replace Angela Merkel as chancellor during September's general election, a recent poll suggests that Social Democratic Party (SPD) candidate Olaf Scholz could lead the country as part of a three-way coalition.
wd/jsi (AFP, dpa)