A German TV reporter has apologised after she was caught smearing herself in mud before filming a report in a flood-devastated town this week.
Susanna Ohlen, 39, has been suspended amid claims she attempted to mislead viewers by suggesting she had lent a hand with the clean-up effort in Bad Munstereifel following heavy flooding that claimed at least 128 lives in Germany.
In an Instagram post on Friday, Ohlen said she had helped out in previous days and was ‘ashamed’ to appear before aid workers with a clean body on the day of the live broadcast.
‘After I had already privately helped out in the region on previous days, on that morning I was ashamed to appear on camera in front of the other aid workers with a clean upper body,’ she wrote in German.
‘So I unthinkingly smeared mud on my clothing. This should never have happened to me as a journalist. It happened to me as a person whose heart was touched by the suffering of all those affected.’
RTL.de had published an article titled ‘Cleaning up after the flood: RTL presenter lends a hand in Bad Munstereifel’, which featured Ohlen.
However it was removed from the website after a video emerged days later, apparently filmed from a nearby building, that appeared to show her scooping muddy water off a street and smearing it on her cheeks.
RTL said: ‘Our reporter’s approach clearly contradicts journalistic principles and our own standards. We therefore gave her a leave of absence on Monday after we heard about it.’
RTL presenter Susanna Ohlen has apologised after she was caught smearing herself in mud before filming a report in a flood devastated town this week
Ohlen was caught smearing herself in mud before filming a report in Bad Munstereifel
She muddied herself, apparently to pretend she had lent a hand with the clean up effort in Bad Munstereifel following heavy flooding that claimed at least 128 lives in Germany
The video appears to show Ohlen in a blue shirt, hat, and boots, bend down, pick up some mud, and smear it on her clothes while surrounded by flood damaged houses and debris.
She then bends down a second time, this time wiping the mud on her face.
The onlooker can be heard laughing in the background as the reporter then turns back to face her camera crew.
Ohlen had worked at RTL since 2008 and presented Good Evening RTL, and Point 12, among others. She currently presents the channel’s flagship Good Morning Germany programme.
Ohlen was suspended by RTL after she was caught smearing herself in mud before filming a report in a flood devastated town this week
Ohlen had worked at RTL since 2008 and presented Good Evening RTL and Point 12, among others. She currently presents the channel’s flagship Good Morning Germany programme
Footage appears to show Ohlen in a blue shirt, hat, and boots, bend down, pick up some mud, and smear it on her clothes while surrounded by flood damaged houses and debris
Ohlen then appears to bend down a second time, this time wiping the mud on her face, before turning back to camera to film the segment
Ohlen’s actions came after Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and France were hit by days heavy rainfall and fooding last week.
The floods have now claimed at least 196 lives across worst-hit Germany and Belgium and are expected to leave billions of euros worth of damages.
In the Ahrweiler area of western Germany’s Rhineland-Palatinate state, the number of recorded deaths has surpassed 110 and police fear that figure may still rise.
In neighbouring North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, 46 people were confirmed dead, including four firefighters, while Belgium has confirmed 31 casualties.
Desperate relatives released images of missing loved ones over the weekend as floodwaters receded and the hope of finding survivors faded.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Belgian King Phillippe and Queen Mathilde have all visited the disaster zone.
Pictured: A destroyed railway track, building and highway are visible between Rech and MAyschoss in Ahrweiler, Germany on Friday following devastating flooding
Residents in Ahrweiler, western Germany, start the clean up after heavy rains caused mudslides and flooding in the region
Residents survey the damage caused by days of heavy rainfall and flooding in Pepinster, Belgium, on Saturday
Wrecked cars and trucks are flooded on the B265 federal highway in Erftstadt, Germany
A view of destroyed houses in Erftstadt-Blessem, Germany, which were destroyed after the ground beneath them collapsed into a nearby gravel pit
Workers clear a destroyed street after the floods caused major damage in Schuld near Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler
A resident trudges through the disaster left by flash flooding in the German zone of Bad Muenstereifel on Sunday morning