Winter hits across Germany with deadly force

The winter weather claimed several lives across Germany at the start of the weekend, with road accidents in icy conditions.

Winter hits across Germany with deadly force

Two people died and three more were seriously injured near Fulda in northern Hesse when a minivan slid across the road and into a truck coming in the opposite direction.

A woman died in Königslutter near Braunschweig when she crashed into a truck being used by the winter roads service, which was gritting at the time.

Strong winds of speeds up to 119 kilometres per hour battered the west and south regions of the country, resulting in many fallen trees and blocked roads and railways.

Frankfurt international airport was badly affected with 110 flights cancelled during Friday evening – because the winds were so strong, landings and take-offs could not be conducted safely.

The central train station in Duisburg was evacuated after parts of the roof were torn off in the wind, while in Hilden near Düsseldorf, the whole roof of a block of flats came off and landed on a nearby supermarket.

Many schools in Bavaria, which were scheduled to teach children on Saturday were closed in anticipation of heavy snowfall.

The weekend is expected to remain wintry, with meteorologists predicting heavy snowfall and temperatures around zero for Saturday in the south. The north should remain dry, with sunshine and temperatures up to five degrees.


Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

Europe's blistering summer may not be over yet, but 2022 is already breaking records, with nearly 660,000 hectares ravaged since January, according to the EU's satellite monitoring service.

Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

And while countries on the Mediterranean have normally been the main seats of fires in Europe, this year, other countries are also suffering heavily.

Fires this year have forced people to flee their homes, destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries, including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showed, setting a record at this point in the year since data collection began in 2006.

Europe has suffered a series of heatwaves, forest fires and historic drought that experts say are being driven by human-induced climate change.

They warn more frequent and longer heatwaves are on the way.

The worst-affected country has been Spain, where fire has destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data.

The EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

The data comes after CAMS said Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger”.

“2022 is already a record year, just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel said. In 2017, 420,913 hectares had burned by August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.

“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all of Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said.

Since 2010, there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory”, he added.

“The overall fire season in the EU is really driven mainly by countries in the Mediterranean region, except in years like this one, in which fires also happen in central and northern regions,” he added.