Armin Laschet, the Christian Democrat [CDU] candidate for chancellor, apologised on Saturday, after he was filmed laughing during a visit to storm-ravaged western Germany where dozens have lost their lives.

As German federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier addressed crowds in North Rhine-Westphalia [NRW] and expressed his condolences to victims of the storm, Mr Laschet could clearly be seen standing in the background, laughing at what appeared to be a private joke with colleagues.

The short clip was met with heavy criticism after it circulated widely on social media on Saturday evening. "I’m really speechless," Lars Klingbeil, general secretary of Germany’s Social Democrat Party [SPD], said on social media.

Mr Laschet issued a swift apology. "This was inappropriate and I’m sorry," he wrote on Twitter. "The fate of those affected is close to our hearts."

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