Storm ‘Emma’ death toll rises in Germany

Storm 'Emma' death toll rises in Germany
The powerful storm ‘Emma’ has caused several deaths and injuries in Germany on Saturday, as uprooted trees and high winds made the country’s railways and roads unsafe.

The violent weather claimed the life of one man after a 30-metre spruce tree smashed into the back seat a car travelling in the Westerwald region and another died in Bavaria after a gust of wind pushed his motorscooter into oncoming traffic.

A German high-speed train crashed into a tree felled by powerful winds near Bonn, injuring the engineer. The incident occurred around 5:30 am as the low-pressure storm system ‘Emma’ swept across Germany. The ICE train did not derail and there were no serious injures to passengers, according to a spokesman for Germany’s national railway Deutsche Bahn.

The storm has so far not been as strong as meteorologists had expected, but winds in the German state North Rhine-Westphalia, where the train accident happened, have topped 135 kilometres an hour.

“We have sporadic route closures across Germany, but much fewer than we’d expected,” said the Deutsche Bahn spokesman, adding that uprooted trees have temporarily blocked the rails between Dortmund and Hanover, Leipzig and Dresden, Münster and Osnabrück, as well as Koblenz and Köln.

Flights at major German airports faced delays on Saturday afternoon and gusting winds forced the postponement of the women’s alpine skiing World Cup slalom at Zwiesel in southeastern Germany.

Despite the deaths and damage, it appears as if ‘Emma’ will not wreak the same level of havoc as storm ‘Kyrill’ did last year in Germany. Jörg Kachelmann from the meteomedia weather service said Saturday’s storm could still have “dramatic” effects in specific areas, but it wasn’t nearly as “widespread as Kyrill.”

In January 2007, ‘Kyrill’ packed winds toping 200 kilometres an hour and left a path of death and destruction in its wake. Forty-seven people died across Europe, 11 of them in Germany.