A German TV reporter was suspended after smearing mud on herself and claiming to have been part of a flood clean-up effort before broadcasting live.
Footage shot by a resident of Bad Munstereifel, Germany, one of many central European towns decimated by floods over the last week, shows Susanna Ohlen, 39, muddying herself before turning back towards her camera crew.
Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and Germany were hit by days of heavy rainfall and flooding last week and, so far, 205 people across the continent have died, while a total of at least 176 people remain accounted for, reports CNN.
Germany was the hardest-hit country and Ohlen was reporting in the historical spa town of Bad Munstereifel, situated in the far southwest of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia for the largest private channel in the country, RTL.
The channel's website, RTL.de, then reportedly published an article titled "Cleaning up after the flood: RTL presenter lends a hand in Bad Munstereifel," which featured Ohlen.
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But later, footage shot by an onlooker emerged on Thursday showing the reporter appearing to bend down and smear herself in mud from the debris that was strewn across the town of 17,000 inhabitants, something she has since admitted in an apology.
Ohlen then appears to take a second dip, this time covering her face in dirt as the cameraperson laughs.
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When her employer became aware of the incriminating clip, they put her on leave.
"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 said in a statement.
Ohlen has worked at the channel since 2008 and has presented Good Evening RTL, Good Morning Germany, and Point 12, among others.
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Yesterday evening, Ohlen took to Instagram to apologise for her "serious mistake".
"As a journalist, this should never have happened to me. As a person who takes the suffering of all those affected to heart, it has happened to me. I'm sorry," she said.
"After I had already helped privately in the region in previous days, I was ashamed to stand in front of the camera in clean clothes, in front of the other relief workers. As a result, without thinking twice, I smeared mud on my clothes," Ohlen continued.
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