With continued flooding along rivers in eastern and northern Germany, there is a shortage of sandbags, and Germans have asked neighboring states, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium and Denmark, for help in reinforcing their dikes and levees, Der Spiegel reports.

“So far, 1.65 million empty sandbags have been delivered to Germany from abroad,” a government spokesman said, adding that the bags are being distributed to the areas in need.

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On Tuesday, flood waters continued gushing north along the Elbe River into the states of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Schleswig-Holstein, the dikes could succumb to the massive onslaught.

As salvage and repair work begins in areas of Germany affected by the floods, an official with the rating agency Fitch told Der Spiegel on Tuesday the the floods could cause a total of €12 billion (around $16 billion) in damage. That would exceed the €11.6 billion in damage caused by historic flooding of Germany in 2002.

German Economics Minister Philipp Rösler told a public radio station that both the federal government and the states should pay into the flood relief fund. After the disastrous floods of 2002, the government created a similar relief fund. “It proved itself,” he said. But the minister did not indicate how large the new fund should be.

Germany’s flood costs may become a factor in its ability to help sustain economic recovery in other EU nations.

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